Iraqi militia leader calls for mass demonstration
Al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric, has been one of the most vocal opponents to the US's presence in Iraq. His call for protest was dated March 14, but was only released today. The announcement comes on the heels of a car bombing that killed at least 125 people and injured more than 150. It was one of Iraq's bloodiest days in years, and coincided with the first day of the country's new American ambassador.
"Four years on and Iraq is still without water, electricity, fuel, security, safety and, furthermore, it is in the middle of sedition," he said in the statement, which is dated March 25 but was only issued Friday.
"As if this was not enough, the occupier also isolated Iraq from the Arab and Muslim worlds, so much so that all foreign nations have ceased to care about an Iraq lying in ruin," it added.
Al-Sadr has been a vocal critic of the U.S. presence in Iraq since the very beginning, rallying tens of thousands of supporters in mass anti-American protests since his Sadrist movement rose to prominence in 2003 as the protector of impoverished Shiites.
"You, oppressed people of Iraq, let the entire world hear your voice that you reject occupation, destruction and terrorism," he said in calling for the April 9 demonstration.