In Baghdad, Iraqis sit in front of campaign posters for candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Hashd al-Shaabi is fighting back after election candidates took down tributes to soldiers killed in the war against ISIS in a competition for poster space.
Campaigning for Iraqi’s parliamentary elections kicked off in Iraq on Saturday and volunteers began putting up posters.
"At midnight sharp, they began pulling down pictures of the martyrs and replaced them with posters of the thieves," Baghdad resident Settar Tourki told AFP.
Pictures of soldiers and militiamen killed in combat, known as "martyrs," are raised in their hometowns as a tribute.
Their removal and replacement with election campaign posters sparked outrage on social media and from the Hashd al-Shaabi.
"Search for these candidates. They ought to leave the elections. Whoever throws the pictures of martyrs and heroes to the ground for a doubtful election process, they do not deserve a seat in the parliament," Nour al-Musawi, a writer, told official Hashd media.
Hashd paramilitaries were formed by a Fatwa (religious ruling) of grand Shiite cleric al-Sistani in response to the rise of ISIS in 2014. They were officially recognized in the Iraqi parliament as part of Iraq’s national forces.
The Fatih alliance, which includes Hashd al-Shaabi elements, is fielding candidates in the May 12 parliamentary elections.
Over 6,900 candidates are running for 329 seats nation-wide.