Iraqi-Americans rally against Iraqi government corruption

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Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press
(Photo: Photo courtesy of Nabil Roumayah)
About 100 Iraqi Americans demonstrated in Southfield Friday against corruption and religious division in Iraq’s government.
Outside the Iraqi Consulate General in Detroit, located in Southfield, they held up signs that read “Long live Iraqi people” and “No to sectarian parties in Iraq,” voicing concern about Iraq’s problems, said organizers.

“People are suffering,” said Dr. Jacoub Mansour of West Bloomfield. “The Iraqis need services, not corruption and sectarian parties.”

Metro Detroit has one of the biggest Iraqi communities in the U.S., many of whom are concerned about their family members and others. The concern is especially felt among minority groups in Iraq, such as Chaldeans, Assyrians, Yazidis, and Mandeans, who are facing persecution from extremist groups such as ISIS.

Friday’s rally was the third held in metro Detroit recently. Two similar rallies were held in Dearborn last week outside the Dearborn Administrative Center. They echo similar rallies that have taken place in Iraq over the past two weeks calling for an end to corruption, nepotism, and religious favoritism.

Mansour said government officials in Iraq are getting excessive salaries and bodyguards, hiring family members, favoring people of their own religious group, while failing to provide basic services such as electricity.

“People are fed up with what’s happening,” said Nabil Roumayah, head of the Iraqi Democratic Union in Sterling Heights. “Iraq is divided, under occupation by ISIS. There are no services, no work, no jobs, so the people have reached their breaking point The demonstrators are trying to push and change how the government works.”

The demonstrators met with and gave a letter Friday to Al Manhal Al Safi, the Consul General of Iraq in Detroit that was written on behalf of about a dozen Iraqi-American organizations and signed by Mansour and Roumayah.

It read in part that “the fundamental solution to the crisis in Iraq lies in putting the political process on the right track to end the sectarian and ethnic divide, monitor the performance of the government, and hold the corrupt accountable. The politicians must respect the national identity of all Iraqis; respect the ethnic, religious and culture diversity of the people.”

The letter was also sent to U.S. Senators and House Reps. in Michigan, said Roumayah.

Mansour said many in metro Detroit’s Iraqi-American Christian communities worry that if Iraq’s government doesn’t act soon, it could mean end for Iraqi’s minority communities. Mansour’s brother, Dr. Noori Mansour, was in Iraq last month along with Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim of Southfield to assess the needs of Chaldean refugees who escaped ISIS.

“No one is doing anything to help our people,” Mansour said. “ISIS is killing our people.”

Roumayah said one positive development is that the protests have been diverse, reflecting a unity that’s needed for Iraq to progress.

The demonstrations in Iraq and in metro Detroit were “a true reflection of our society reflecting all the colors. We don’t want corruption. We don’t want division. We want a united Iraq.”

Contact Niraj Warikoo: or 313-223-4792. Follow him on Twitter @nwarikoo