Extract of article published in LA TimesBabylon and Beyond blog
Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's call to followers to hold a mass prayer and protest in central Baghdad to denounce the new Status of Forces Agreement reached between U.S. and Iraqi negotiators brought tens of thousands of people swarming into central Baghdad's Firdos Square on Friday. This is none other than the place where U.S. forces helped Iraqis joyously pull down a giant statue of Saddam Hussein back in April 2003.
This time, the crowd gathered at the square was just as frenzied, but there were no American forces in sight. And this time, the protesters dragged down something very different: an effigy of President Bush. Their anger is over the SOFA, which would keep U.S. forces in Iraq through December 2011. That's far too long, according to the anti-U.S. cleric Sadr, and according to those in the crowd Friday.