Saturday, March 19, 2005


In the southern city of Basra, hundreds of students have protested in front of the governor's office for the past three days, sometimes scuffling with the police, in the latest show of anger against the Shiite parties and militias that largely run the city.

The demonstrations began after an incident on Wednesday in which militiamen loyal to the cleric Moktada al-Sadr beat a group of students dressed Western style, with uncovered hair and jeans, as they ate a picnic lunch in a Basra park. Police officers were standing by but did not stop the attack, the students said....

Basra's governor, Muhammad Mesbeh al Waili, said Mr. Sadr's local office had issued a formal apology. But the spokesman for Mr. Sadr's office in Basra, Sheik Asad al-Basra, was unrepentant in an interview on Saturday, saying that the incident had been caused by "licentious behavior" among the students.

--New York Times

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