Mourners carry a coffin of prominent social activist Wissam al-Ghrawi in Basra, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. Iraqi police say religious cleric Wissam, who was linked to the ongoing protests over poor services in Basra, was killed outside his home after suggested that demonstrators should take up arms over the conditions in the city. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

Iraqi cleric linked to Basra protests killed

November 18, 2018 - 5:20 am

BASRA, Iraq (AP) — Hundreds of Basra residents mourned a Muslim cleric on Sunday who police said was killed outside his home after he suggested that protestors should take up arms over poor public services in the city.

Wissam al-Ghrawi was a prominent figure in demonstrations demanding clean water and reliable electricity in the southern Iraqi city. Basra province generates more than 90 percent of Iraq's oil exports but suffers from contaminated drinking water and regular blackouts.

Basra police say al-Ghrawi was shot and killed in front of his house in the city center by unknown assailants late Saturday.

Associates and relatives of the cleric paraded his coffin around parts of the city on Sunday, demanding the police identify the killers and bring them to justice.

"Why was Sheikh Wissam al-Ghrawi killed? Because he asked for clean water? Because he asked for jobs for the unemployed? Is this the price he paid for defending his country?" said civic activist Mohanad al-Ghrawi, a distant relative of the deceased cleric.

Al-Ghrawi was filmed at a protest on Friday saying clerics would issue a fatwa within days on taking up arms. The video was shared widely on Iraqi social media.

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