How Kut’s Central Square Became a Symbol of Hope

by Mohammed Al-Zaidi in Wasit

Looking up, while in the courtyard of Tamuz Square in the city of Kut, 180 kilometres south of Baghdad, you will see 12 concrete pillars. Each one represents a giraffe bending to drink water, symbol of a free flowing spring that irrigates the whole area.
The square, which crosses four busy main streets, is located halfway between Baghdad and the province of Dhi Qar.
In 2007, this square become a place for anti-government demonstrations and this year it has reclaimed that mission. “Having demonstrators in this square means access to the provincial council buildings is cut off,” Mohammed al-Emarah explained.
The anti-government protesters see the position of the square, adjacent to the Wasit provincial court and the offices of the local authorities, as a challenge in itself to the powers that be.
The square, with a 75 meter radius, was first built here in 1963, along with other important centres in the city such as the offices of local administrators and the library. In the centre of the square there is a spring. “Throughout history, protesters and security forces have competed to have control over this square,” says al-Emarah, who is distributing flags to the demonstrators here today.
This square “is a witness to the dedication and courage of the people, and their bravery in the face of governments who do not care about them, “adds Ali Madwali, another protester. “This place will always bring us together, regardless of the circumstances, until things change for the better.”
Majid al-Asadi, a local history professor, says the squares where demonstrators have been gathering now amount to “intellectual and ideological platforms”. The different protests in other central squares, throughout southern Iraq, all hark back to this tradition of protests in the central city, he says, and the demonstrators are imitating one another, from place to place.

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