Democracy In Iraq

From Holden:

Some Iraqis get it:

They came from across Iraq, marching in solidarity with Shia brothers. Civilians­ they bear no arms, for the moment anyway,­ who are willing die on the steps of the Imam Ali shrine. The human shields have arrived in Najaf.

Hundreds have come to what is one of the most holy Shia sites on solidarity marches in recent days. Many more have made their way in smaller groups from nearby towns and neighbourhoods. More than 2,000 have now pledged their allegiance to the Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr and are based in the compound at the shrine.

Others do not:

[A]rmed Iraqi police turned their ire against journalists in the city.

Last night they fired warning shots at and over the Sea of Najaf hotel after arresting a correspondent from Al Arabiya in what appeared to be a continued campaign of harassment against journalists in Najaf.

As journalists protested during the arrest, a police lieutenant said above the hubbub: “We are going to open fire on this hotel. We are going to smash it up. I will kill you all. You did this all to yourselves.”

In a threat which did not immediately appear to have been carried out, he said that four snipers would be positioned on the roof of the police station to fire at any journalists who left the hotel.

The police contingent drove to the hotel in two marked police Landcruisers at around 6.30pm and demanded to know the whereabouts of correspondents from Al Arabyia and the international news agencies Reuters and AP.

The visit to the hotel, the fourth by police in just over 24 hours, followed a threat earlier in the day by the chief of Najaf police Ghalab al-Jazaari personally to arrest the correspondent from al Arabyia, Ahmed al-Saleh.

The police chief, who on Sunday had ordered all journalists to leave Najaf, however added in response to questions that reporters were free to stay at the hotel but at their own risk.

“We are not responsible [for you]” he added.

Scuffling broke out as a hotel employee angrily remonstrated with the policemen saying: “Are you Iraqis? You are police but you have no right to do this.”

The police then drove off, stopping 300 metres down a road directly opposite the police station and fired warning shots in the direction of the hotel. Journalists were threatened with shooting if they left the building. The al Arabiya correspondent was later released.