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Iraqi-Americans In El Cajon Plead For International Support Of Iraqi Protesters

Iraqi-Americans in El Cajon call for the international community to support protesters in Iraq, on November 10 2019
Claire Trageser
Iraqi-Americans in El Cajon call for the international community to support protesters in Iraq, on November 10 2019

More than a hundred people gathered in El Cajon on Sunday to support ongoing anti-government protests in Iraq.

Iraqis have taken to the streets in Baghdad and other cities in recent weeks to denounce what they see as an illegitimate and corrupt government installed after the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Iraqi security forces responded with a brutal crackdown --using live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades on protesters. More than 300 people have died and 15,000 others wounded since the protests began last month according to The Independent High Commission of Human Rights for Iraq.

“We, the Iraqi-American community, unite our voices with the valiant youth uprising,” Wedad Schlotte, the vice-president of the San Diego chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told the crowd. “We here, plead to the United Nations, our elected politicians, lawmakers and the international community as a whole to pressure the Iraqi community to stop the bloodshed and listen to the demands of the peaceful demonstrators.”

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Much of Schlotte’s family still lives in Iraq.

The rally called for international bodies and the United States to step up their efforts to stop the violence, while also asking that a new generation of politicians take over in Baghdad. Some protestors held signs with smudged red paint that said “Iraq is bleeding,” and calling for the United States to end its “silence” on the violence in Iraq.

Ammar Campa-Najjar, who grew up in El Cajon and is currently running for Congress in the 50th District, attended the rally to show support for Iraqi-Americans. He described the protests as being in response to “rampant corruption.”

“It hits home for so many people in the community because there are many Iraqi-American citizens who have folks back home who are suffering right now. And it’s heartbreaking to witness that,” said Campa-Najjar. “They feel powerless.”