Algeria’s Ambassador to Iraq Summoned over Pro-Saddam Chants

The controversy triggered by the pro-Saddam chants and sectarian slogans sung by Algerian supporters of USMA team that played Iraqi al-Quwa al-Jawiya in Baghdad on Sunday has not faded away.

Algeria’s ambassador was summoned by Iraqi foreign minister to protest the incident, and in all Iraqi cities, the names of streets related to Algeria or paying homage to Algerian localities are currently renamed after figures of the Iraqi armed forces.

Iraq’s foreign ministry spokesman confirmed in a statement that that the Algerian ambassador has been summoned and that Iraq has demanded an apology for the fans’ behavior.

Meanwhile, the decision to rename streets was formalized by a law passed by the Iraqi Parliament in the wake of the incident.

According to Algerian press reports Friday, several streets bearing Algerian names have been renamed over the past two days in Iraq. This is another step in the protest of the Iraqis against what they considered a provocation on the part of USMA supporters during the match.

Chants were heard on the terraces during the match, played as part of the Arab Club Champions Cup, praising former leader Saddam Hussein.

These chants pushed al-Quwa al-Jawiya’s players to quit 72 minutes into the match and leave the field.

The referee of the match then waited 15 minutes before calling the end of the game, on a score of 2-0 in favor of USMA.

Algerian media said that insults against Shias – a minority in the Muslim world but a majority of the population in Iraq – were also chanted during the game by supporters of the Algiers club.

Algerian officials described the incident as an “isolated act” but Algerian football fans on social media seem unrepentant over the pro-Saddam chants.

“It was just a way for them to honor the Iraqi team through its former president. The match took place in very good conditions. It was all a misunderstanding,” said USMA president Hakim Serrar, while the Algerian minister of youth and sports also reassured the chants are “an incident that cannot affect the relationship between the two countries.”

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