Baghdad Protests Prevented
Many Iraqis are worried that democracy, never firmly rooted here, is sliding away from their country. On Saturday, Iraq’s security forces stopped demonstrators from protesting against the parliament’s pension program, which activists say is excessive. In Baghdad, police closed off several main roads and bridges to stop protesters from reaching designated gathering places.
Despite the prohibition, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in several cities where protest leaders say police beat and arrested some participants. Iraqi officials said they forbade the protests because a large gathering would have been susceptible to a terrorist attack.
The ban on Saturday’s protests is the latest evidence of growing authoritarianism in Iraq. Sectarian politics appears to be on the rise once more, and the government has become increasingly intolerant of dissent. The failure of democracy here would cast an even darker shadow over the nearly nine-year US military presence, which was sold as an effort to build a democratic country.