A thousands-strong rally of Shiite Moslems took place in central Baghdad on Monday. Rallying in Baghdad were mainly Najaf Shiites. Protesters demanded an end to the American occupation and to ensure democracy and political freedom. "No to occupation, no to colonisation," "Let the people choose its government," "No to government involving no representatives of the Najaf Shiite school," read their slogans.
The rally was staged in front of Palestine hotel, which was the venue of a meeting of Iraq's opposition parties. Representatives of the Najaf religious school had not been invited to participate.
"We want to make ourselves heard, to emphasise our school's role and the role of Islam in state affairs," Sheikh Reda al-Musawi, a leader of the Najaf Shiite movement, told RIA Novosti. "Although Saddam Hussein ordered the construction of mosques, he was in opposition to Shiites." "The story is happening again. Americans are doing what Saddam used to do. They want Iraq to remain a secular state," said Sheikh al-Musawi.
Addressing a meeting near Palestine hotel, Sheikh Nadim al-Musawi demanded that an all-national conference be convened in Iraq as soon as possible, a conference that would allow all national forces to be involved in forming a new cabinet. Within a year, a cabinet would have to draft a constitution that would guarantee rights and freedoms to all Iraq nationals.
The rally-men's demands were handed over to the US occupying authorities.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.