More than 10,000 Muqtada al-Sadr supporters gathered in Baghdad today to protest the US-Iraqi security pact that would keep troops in the country for another 3 years. The protesters hanged an effigy of President Bush from the same plinth Saddam Hussein’s statue was once toppled from by US forces, placing a black bag around Bush’s head in reference to Saddam’s execution.
Protesters arrived overnight, ensuring that the Maliki government couldn’t block the central square. They have so far remained peaceful, sitting in rows of 50 stretching a half mile from the square. Sadr himself did not appear, though an aide read a statement from him. “America is and will not be of any use to us,” he said, “because it is the enemy of Islam.” The pact still needs to be approved by the Iraqi parliament.