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Iraq Shia protest ‘preferential treatment’ for Iranians

An aerial view of Karbala [File photo]

Thousands of Iraqi Shias on Friday hindered the movement of buses carrying Iranian visitors to the Iraqi city of Karbala, claiming the visitors were receiving “preferential treatment”.

Iraqi Shias from across the country converged on Karbala on Friday, where they prevented buses affiliated with Iraq’s Shia Waqf (Shia religious endowments authority) from transporting visitors coming from Iran, Menem Mohamed, an Iraqi Shia demonstrator, told Anadolu Agency by phone.

Like thousands of his Shia compatriots, Mohamed complained that the Shia Waqf was habitually showing preferential treatment to the Iranian visitors at the expense of Iraqi Shias.

“Instead of taking us back to our home provinces, the buses left us in the street so they might cater to the Iranians, prompting widespread anger against these acts of discrimination,” Mohamed said.

On Friday morning, activists shared a video on social media showing thousands of Iraqi Shias besieging Waqf-affiliated buses, which they accused of “catering only to Iranian visitors and not to Iraqi ones”.

Anadolu Agency was unable to obtain immediate comment regarding the incident from either the Shia Waqf or the Iraqi authorities.

On Thursday, thousands of Shia visitors from Iraq, Iran and other Muslim countries converged on Karbala — amid tight security — to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of the 12th Imam, a major Shia holiday.

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