Iraqi protesters converged in the capital Baghdad to condemn Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat newspaper over an offensive cartoon depicting Iraq’s most prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali al-Sistani.
The demonstrators staged the protest outside the gates of the heavily-fortified Green Zone, which is home to several embassies and government offices including the parliament and the prime minister’s office, on Sunday, seeking to break into the Saudi embassy.
Protestors demanded that the Iraqi government adopt a clear stance on the insult to the prominent religious figure.
Hezbollah has strongly condemned the offensive cartoon, emphasizing that the cleric enjoys a sublime position in the hearts and minds of Muslims.
“Ayatollah Sistani has always preserved Iraq’s safety, political stability and national unity,” the Lebanese resistance movement said in a statement released on Saturday evening, pointing to a June 2014 fatwa (religious decree) issued by the cleric, which called on all Iraqi citizens to defend their country shortly after ISIL unleashed its terror campaign in Iraq.
Hezbollah regretted the Saudi-owned newspaper’s disgraceful affront to the distinguished religious figure, stressing that no one can undermine Ayatollah Sistani’s honorable position and his leading role in Arab and Muslim societies.
“What the newspaper and its sponsors did best serves the interests of the Ummah’s enemies, led by the United States and the Zionist regime (Israel),” the statement read.
Hezbollah underlined that the insult serves all those who seek to stoke sedition, provoke religious and political divisions and create chaos as well as social unrest.
The statement called on the Iraqi nation to exercise unity and awareness, and work towards freedom and genuine independence.