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Protester brings lion ‘to anti-government demonstration’

Wrapped in Middle Eastern country's flag, owner was holding it with chain

Samuel Lovett
Thursday 14 November 2019 18:05 GMT
Protester brings lion ‘to anti-government demonstration’

An man appears to have taken a lion to an anti-government protest in Iraq.

Wrapped in the Middle Eastern country's flag, he was filmed holding the animal by a chain.

The lion briefly lunged in the direction of a small group of men and later rests on the side of the road as his handler crouches beside him.

It is unclear where the footage was taken but over the last month-and-a-half, there have been numerous protests in Iraq's capital Baghdad and the country’s southern provinces, some of which have erupted into violence.

At least 320 people have died so far, while thousands have been wounded, as demonstrators have clashed with security forces.

Four were killed and more than 65 harmed in clashes on Thursday with Iraqi security forces, who were trying to push them back to their main camp in central Baghdad, police and medical sources said.

Security forces used live rounds, rubber bullets and fired tear gas canisters to disperse hundreds of people near Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the protests against the country's political establishment.

Anger over an economy flush with oil money that has failed to bring jobs or improvements to the lives of young people, who constitute the majority of those demonstrating, have fueled the protests.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government has tried to quell the unrest with measures to help the poor and college graduates.

But protesters are now demanding the departure of the entire ruling elite that took power after the US invasion and the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

After putting down an insurgency by Isis in 2017, Iraq has enjoyed two years of comparative stability. But despite its oil wealth, many people live in poverty with limited access to clean water, electricity, healthcare or education.

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