Iraqis deride politicians with show of ‘sofa pride’
Although dramatic scenes of hundreds of protestors busting into Iraq's parliamentary buildings were released on mainstream news outlets, it was a stained sofa which has become central to the conversation on social media about the country's ongoing political crisis.
Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri became targets of mocking memes, when images of them staring gravely at the apparently bloodstained couch went viral. The pictures were taken during the officials' tour inside the parliament offices to inspect damage following Saturday's protests.
Thousands of people released sarcastic images of themselves looking sadly at their own sofas, using Arabic hashtags like, #My_Sofa_Is_My_Pride and #May1_Iraqi_Sofa_Day. #MySofaMyDignity was also used as a dig at politicians who described the weekend's unrest as an "encroachment on the dignity of the state".
Several public figures joined in the japes. Albawaba media network declared that Iraq had marked its first "National Couch Day". Prominent Iraqi figures, like media personality Souhair Al-Qayssei, joined in by posting her own sofa picture on Facebook. Iraqi musician, Karim Wasfi, also shared a meme of himself sombrely playing his cello near the elegant sofa. Wasfi became famous last year when he gave a recital in a Baghdad neighbourhood that had been bombed.
The memes clearly lampooned the politicians' apparent concern over the state of the expensive-looking white sofa amid deadly violence in the country, including two large suicide attacks over the weekend.
On Saturday, hundreds of protestors tore down walls in Baghdad's Green Zone, a heavily guarded area home to Iraq's main government ministries, to demand a major cabinet overhaul. Unrest has built up over several months as Iraq's government grapples to combat the Islamic State group (which controls much of the Northern and Western regions of the country) as well as tackle financial instability following a drop in global oil prices.