Shi'ites in Anti-American Protest in Baghdad
Apr 21, 11:12 am ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - About 2,000 Iraqi Shi'ite Muslims staged an anti-American protest in Baghdad on Monday, saying U.S. troops had arrested one of their leaders.
Shi'ites said their leader Muhammad al-Fartusi had been detained but gave no details. U.S. military officials were not immediately available for comment.
"We want Sheikh al Fartusi released now," they shouted as U.S. troops stood behind barbed wire outside the Palestine Hotel, where some American military units are based.
U.S. troops took over Baghdad this month after toppling Saddam Hussein from power. While Iraqis were happy to see Saddam's fall, many are suspicious of U.S. intentions.
"The Americans are just like (Saddam's) Baath party," said one protester.
"No, no to colonialism," they shouted.
Shi'ites, who make up about 60 percent of Iraq's population, were persecuted under the Baath party's secular rule. Saddam himself is a Sunni Muslim.
Fartusi is believed to be close to a radical faction alleged to have been involved in killing moderate Shi'ite cleric Abdul Majid al-Khoei earlier this month in the city of Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad.
Khoei was hacked to death shortly after returning from exile in London. The faction has denied any involvement.