Sadr: I may be assassinated, but reform revolution must continue

at 10:21



Muqtada al-Sadr preaches to demonstrators in Baghdad on Friday. Photo: Rudaw TV

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gathered today with hundreds of thousands of his supporters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, where he said could be assassinated, but encouraged them to continue their demonstrations and protests in the capital until all corrupt government officials are removed from their posts.

“No matter what ethnic or religious group the corrupt belong to, we will stop them and shake their seats,” Sadr said. “The seats of those who enriched themselves at your expense.”

Sadr told his cheering supporters that government and party officials tried to manipulate the election law in order to stay in power and warned that unless the laws and commission presiding over the elections are changed his party and people will boycott the next vote.

“In next elections, never vote for the corrupts,” Sadr told his supporters amid chants of “Yes, yes to Iraq” and “Your vote is for freedom and your demonstrations will be their end.”

Iraq is scheduled to hold provincial elections this year and general elections next year. However, the displacement of some 3 million Iraqis because of the fight against ISIS complicates the process.*

“They try to manipulate the election law. But I tell you to vote for the clean ones and those against corruption and sectarianism, Sadr said.

“I want you to do a revolution through the ballet box.”

As he had done on several occasions before, Sadr voiced strong criticism of Iraq’s election commission, saying: “The existence of this election commission is a crime because they will keep these corrupt faces in power. Unless they change these faces we will not take part in the elections if they don’t make changes.”

On Friday, he advised the crowds that he may one day be killed or silenced but that they must continue their demonstrations and “reform revolution.”

“Iraq’s corrupt leaders are not corrupt alone they also have money and arms,” Sadr said. “They will do their best to sow the seed of sectarian strife.”

Demonstrators in January called on Sadr to resume leadership of the protests.*

“But we are not cowed by threats and death,” he went on. “Many tried that before and failed.”

He said that “If they succeeded in assassinating me” his followers should continue “the reform revolution without fear or exhaustion. No one should say Muqtada is gone there will be no reform.”

“It will be for God and the country,” Sadr insisted.

Previously, riot police have been used to disperse the crowds and some protestors were reportedly arrested.*

“Also keep the peacefulness of your gatherings and demonstrations to the end," he added. “Iraq should not go back to square one.”

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