Thousands gathered across Iraq to protest the government led by Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki Friday, but one guy was noticeably absent: Muntazer al Zaidi, the journalist who threw his shoe at President Bush in 2008. Zaidi was arrested on Thursday ahead of today's "Day of Rage."
Zaidi was going to give a press conference in Baghdad in support of the protests when an Iraqi army officer showed up with orders to take him away. As Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating notes, Zaidi's "supporters should certainly know the best way to protest his arrest."
On Thursday, Maliki claimed the rallies were organized by supporters of Saddam Hussein and warned that insurgents would bomb larges crowds gathered in public. That night, cars were banned from the streets of Baghdad, The New York Times' Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt report, and the city imposed a curfew--a measure usually only taken in the event of an insurgent attack.
The protests turned violent Friday, and at least 13 people were killed, in some cases while attempting to enter government buildings. Security forces fired on the crowd in Mosul. In Hawija, north of Baghdad, security forces fired into the air after demonstrators tried to break into the municipal building, killing three and injuring 15 others. Baghdad demonstrators were beaten after tearing down concrete blast walls blocking a bridge to the Green Zone, where the American embassy and Iraqi parliament are. Protesters say the government locks itself in the Green Zone so it doesn't have to hear "the people's voice," Al Jazeera reports.
Following rallies across the Middle East, protests began earlier this month in Iraq. A map of the protests across the country:
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