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Online Iraqis Throw Virtual Shoes At Much Disliked, Outgoing Prime Minister

Kholoud Ramzi
While a comparatively small number of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s supporters protest his removal in Baghdad, Iraqi social media was in an uproar at the nomination of Haider al-Abadi as the…
14.08.2014  |  Baghdad
One of the cartoons mocking outgoing Iraqi PM, Nouri al-Maliki.
One of the cartoons mocking outgoing Iraqi PM, Nouri al-Maliki.

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The desperate attempts of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stay in power may have been taken seriously by many and led to questions about attempted coups and concern as to which sectors of the military supported him - but there are many Iraqis who are not taking al-Maliki seriously at all. Sarcastic pictures, jokes and comments have been circulating on Iraqi social media for the past few days, with those photo shopping pictures and posting jokes appearing to compete amongst themselves to make a mockery of their soon-to-be-former Prime Minister.

One of the most popular pictures shows al-Maliki wearing a Hitler-style moustache. Another shows US President Barack Obama patting al-Maliki on the back, as if to bid him farewell. This has garnered a number of humorous comments.

One Iraqi Kurdish journalist shared a picture that shows young men trampling on a picture of al-Maliki that is lying on the floor. “They started to throw your pictures on the ground as soon as they heard about al-Abadi,” the journalist wrote in the caption. “They started to throw shoes at the picture as soon as they knew you were out. I fear that soon they will beat you with their shoes. We Iraqis are the kind of people who receive our leaders with cheering and applause and then farewell them with shoes.”

Another picture showed two tribal leaders, or sheikhs, sitting behind al-Maliki at a funeral. “Let us grieve for the soul of [al-Maliki’s] third term,” those who shared the picture wrote. “The funeral of the State of Law bloc.”

Another Iraqi prankster posted a picture of al-Maliki’s wife. “Breaking news,” they wrote. “Al-Abadi’s wife has called al-Maliki’s wife to ask her where she put the presidential mugs.”

Those who supported al-Maliki also came in for ribbing, with politicians who protested al-Abadi’s nomination or al-Maliki’s ouster also targeted by jokers.

Another commenter wrote this: “Al-Maliki ruled us for eight years and he brought us right back to the era of the Caliphate. If he had had another four years, we might have seen dinosaurs roaming the streets of Baghdad”.

Some other activists wrote on one of al-Maliki’s Facebook pictures that Iraqis need to thank the Prime Minister for his achievements before he leaves. They listed 14 of the most important ones. This included sectarianism, displacement, insecurity, corruption and lack of government services. “Last but not least we should congratulate him on the birth of Daash, which came from all of these achievements,” they wrote, using the Arabic acronym for the Sunni Muslim extremist group known as the Islamic State, that now controls parts of the country.

There were also posts on social media about al-Abadi. As one journalist wrote, “he holds a graduate degree from England [generally considered to be better than one from an Iraqi institute] and his father was a doctor and the director of a hospital. He is not just some salesman,” the journalist wrote, referring to al-Maliki’s one time job, selling rings and beads.

The many sarcastic comments made online truly do reflect the feelings many ordinary Iraqis have toward their Prime Minister. They have had enough of the crises caused during his time in power. On the other side of all those jokes is a sense of relief, and even happiness, that this trouble making leader has been removed from power.