Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has ordered removing a billboard featuring key Iranian political figures at the entrance of al-Adhamiya neighborhood in Baghdad.
Kadhimi contacted the neighborhood’s youth and activists on Wednesday in light of the tension caused by raising the advertising structures that held the photos of the late Leader of the Iranian revolution Ruhollah Khomeini, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and former Head of Iran’s Quds Force Qassem Soleimani.
A source from the neighborhood told local media that the city’s activists received a call from the PM in which he informed them about his decision to ease tension.
Security forces accompanied by government vehicles removed the billboard that was placed near Imam Abu Hanifa al-Numan mosque and shrine.
A video circulated on social media showed youth celebrating the poster’s removal.
The billboard sparked rage among residents of al-Adhamiya, an east-central Baghdad district that is home to an overwhelmingly Sunni majority population.
Baghdadis considered the incident an attempt by pro-Iranian groups to provoke people and stir up sectarian sentiments.
“Al-Adhamiya will not be insulted,” tweeted a member of the parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee Dhafer al-Ani, who is known for opposing Iran’s influence in Iraq.
The former journalist and editor-in-chief of Assabah newspaper, Falah al-Mishaal, called for forming an official technical body to give approvals for billboards and banners or for placing statues of historical and contemporary Iraqi figures that made a difference in Iraqi.
Pro-Iranian groups often hang posters and large banners for Iranian leaders, especially in Baghdad and central and southern provinces to establish Iranian hegemony in the country.
Notably, activists in the October 2019 protest movement burned pictures of Khomeini, Khamenei, and Soleimani in more than one area.
On November 3, 2019, activists in the Najaf governorate changed a street’s name from “Imam Khomeini Street” to “Martyrs of the October Revolution Street.”
They also set fire to Iran’s consulates in Najaf and Karbala cities.