Tuesday, March 31, 2020
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Hundreds of Iraqi women defy cleric to protest

Hundreds of Iraqi women of all ages flooded central Baghdad on Thursday alongside male anti-government protesters, defying an order by powerful cleric Moqtada Sadr to separate the genders in the rallies.
Some were veiled, others not, still more wrapped their faces in black-and-white checkered scarves. Most carried roses, Iraqi flags or signs defending their role in the regime change demonstrations.
They marched through a tunnel and spilled out into Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the youth-dominated movement in a country where vast regions remain socially conservative.
“We want to protect women’s role in the protests as we’re just like the men.
There are efforts to kick us out of Tahrir but we’ll only come back stronger,” said Zainab Ahmad, a pharmacy student.
“Some people were inciting against us a few days ago, seeking to keep women at home or keep them quiet. But we turned out today in large numbers to prove to those people that their efforts will end in failure,” she said.
Ahmad appeared to be referring to controversial cleric Moqtada Sadr, a powerful figure who first backed the rallies when they erupted in October but who has since sought to discredit them.