Hundreds of followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr rallied in central Iraq Friday to condemn the burning of copies of the Koran and a depiction of the Prophet Mohammed by a Florida pastor.
The demonstration, along with a similar one in the powerful cleric’s Sadr City stronghold in north Baghdad, saw protesters walk from the main mosque in Kufa, 145 kilometres (90 miles) south of Baghdad, to the centre of the town.
Demonstrators shouted, “No, No, America!”, “No, No, Israel!”, “Yes, Yes, Islam!” and “Yes, Yes, for the Koran!” and held up a banner that read, “We demand action against those who insult the Koran anywhere.”
“Muslims should stand firmly against those who insult the things that are sacred to Islam, and at the very top of that list is the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed,” said Ahmed al-Kaabi, one of the demonstrators.
The rally came after US pastor Terry Jones carried out a burning of copies of Islam’s holy book and a depiction of Mohammed in front of 20 people at his church in Gainesville, Florida, on April 29, with the burning streamed live over the Internet.
A video of the burning was uploaded to YouTube by the pastor’s supporting group “Stand Up America Now.”
The actions were taken to protest the imprisonment in Iran of a Christian clergyman, Youcef Nadarkhani.