Thousands of Iraqis vented their anger Friday at rampant corruption and abysmal electricity services as the country's first protest movement in years increased pressure for officials to be held accountable.
Top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called earlier in the day for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take a tougher stand against corruption and name and shame those impeding reform.
Aside from Baghdad, all the demonstrations took place in the Shiite south -- the power base of many of Iraq's top political parties. Combined with Sistani's calls for change, that poses a potentially serious challenge for the Shiite-led government.
"All of you together to the court, all of you are thieves," chanted protesters in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.
"Friday after Friday, we'll get the corrupt out."
Many demonstrators held Iraqi flags, while some caried a coffin covered in black fabric representing the death of the consciences of parliament and politicians, as well the demise of electricity and other services.
Thousands demonstrated in the southern port city of Basra as well, chanting slogans such as "No, to the parties," and carrying signs including one that read: "It is time for your departure, O you corrupt."
Protesters also aired their grievances at demonstrations in the southern cities of Najaf, Karbala, Hilla, Nasiriyah and Diwaniyah.