Friday protests rage across Arab World

Protests are quickly spreading across different Arab cities on another “day of rage,” amid a revolution fever in the Arab world.

In Iraq, thousands took to the streets following Friday prayers to demand more accountability from elected officials. While mostly peaceful, some of the protests in the north and south have turned violent, according to the New York Times.

Unlike protests elsewhere in the region, Iraqi protests have not called for an entirely new government. Instead, protesters are lamenting corruption, instability and the poor quality of government services. While Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki asserted Iraqis’ right to express themselves, he also tried to persuade them to call off the protests in a televised speech on Thursday. In attempt to curtail protests, Iraqi officials have banned all cars from the streets “until further notice.”

According to Agence France Press, “two people were killed and 20 wounded, including seven policemen, in clashes between protesters and security forces in the Iraqi town of Hawija Friday, police and the town's city council chief said.”

In Yemen, protests inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia continue. In the capital city of Sanaa, tens of thousands of people have gathered in the main square for Friday prayers and to engage in mass protests demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled for 23 years, step down. On Wednesday, Saleh had ordered security forces to protect protesters  and prevent violent confrontations between government supporters and opponents.

Protests in the Libyan city Benghazi are expected to continue following Friday prayers amid fears of an upsurge in violence.  Government forces are fighting rebels for cities near the capital, according to RTE. Opposition forces are already in control of major centers in the east, including Libya's second largest city, Benghazi. President Muammar al-Qadhafi's troops remain in control of Tripoli after cracking down on anti-government protests several days ago.

In Bahrain, anti-regime protests have entered their 12th day as protesters prepare for a mass rally following Friday prayers. In the capital city Manama, protesters have gathered in Pearl Square, which has become a tent city resembling the one that sprung up in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. According to AFP, many protesters, mainly Shiites, are calling for an end to the Sunni rule of the Al-Khalifa dynasty, which has lasted for two centuries.

“Day of rage” protests have also spread to Mauritania, where many have called via Facebook for the need to organize a peaceful protest in the capital Nouakchot against deteriorating economic and social conditions. The protest is likely to start at the Big Mosque (Mosque of Saudi Arabia) and go through the capital’s main roads heading toward Shanqit Square on Gamal Abdul Nasser Street in the heart of the city. For his part, Mauritania’s prime minister asserted during a speech in one of Nouakchot’s unplanned neighborhoods, that every citizen has the right to protest and exercise his freedoms. The prime minister promised to launch development projects in the neighborhood.

Mohammed Mahmoud weld Mohammed al-Amin, head of Mauritania’s ruling party called for the failure of the protest scheduled on Friday. Al-Amin argued that the country must reorganize itself to prevent the country from slipping into chaos.  The Tawasul opposition party had announced its willingness to propose a political initiative including a vision for how to overcome the current situation. Mauritania’s Islamist party refused to engage in dialogue with the regime.

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