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Thousands Of Government Supporters Rally In Shi'ite Areas

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in predominantly Shi’ite parts of Iraq to show support for the Iraqi government after more than two weeks of antigovernment protests in Sunni-dominated parts of the country.

The January 8 demonstrations were in several cities, including the Shi'ite holy site of Karbala and the southern port city of Basra.

Protesters dismissed calls for reform of antiterrorism laws.

They also condemned the alleged involvement of other Middle East countries in recent antigovernment rallies.

Meanwhile, in a show of support for the antigovernment demonstrators, several Sunni Arabs and Kurdish ministers boycotted the January 8 weekly cabinet meeting.

The primarily Sunni antigovernment protests erupted last month over grievances such as the detention of Sunni Muslims and the perceived second-class treatment of Sunnis by Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters