Iraq: Cleric al-Sadr calls for peaceful protests

Iraqi Shi'ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr called for peaceful protests after the passage of a security pact that will let US forces stay in Iraq through 2011. The cleric's spokesman said al-Sadr also wants his followers to close his offices and affiliated institutions for three days "to show the tragedy that has befallen us." Sheik Salah al-Obeidi read al-Sadr's statement to reporters in the holy city of Najaf on Friday, a day after lawmakers approved the deal. Iraq's presidential council still needs to ratify it. Al-Sadr's statement called for "peaceful public protests" and the display of black banners as a sign of mourning. But it didn't repeat his threat to unleash militia fighters to attack US forces if they don't leave immediately.