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Iraqi Muslims Peacefully Protest U.S. Occupation - 2003-05-19

Thousands of Iraqi Shiite Muslims march through Baghdad to demand the establishment of an interim Iraqi government and the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Jim Harriott reports.

In the biggest demonstration since the end of the war, the demonstrators marched peacefully – protesting U.S. occupation of the country, and rejecting what they fear will be a U.S.-installed puppet government.

This – despite the Bush administration’s declarations that U.S. Troops will leave – when Iraq is stable again.

The crowd chanted: “No Shiites – no Sunnis – just Islamic unity.” They sang religious songs – and carried banners reading: “No to the foreign administration” and “We want honest Iraqis – not thieves.”

At one point Shiite leader Sheik al-Far-Tousi urged other oppressed people to support what he called “the oppressed Iraqi people” and “stage peaceful demonstrations all around the world.”

Meanwhile the U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, has been pushing ahead on setting up an interim authority in Iraq. In Mosul Sunday the first city to set up a town council and with 14 Police stations now open, Mr. Bremer could walk the Streets, although under heavy guard.

“This is a different area and a different approach and I think they’ve done a wonderful job.”

But an Iraqi soldier said he had not been paid in 3 months. And others had more basic complaints.

“There is no job. There is no money. There is no food.”