'During yesterday's Shia observance of Ashura, more than 5,000 protesters gathered outside the Imam Hussein Shrine in Karbala to protest the policies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in advance of March elections.
According to the Washington Post, "After the US invasion, the day had been embraced by the country's Shiite majority a moment to express solidarity in their new found political power and long frustrated political freedom." Saddam Hussein so feared the power of the observance that he barred public commemoration of it under his rule.
But under Iraq's democratically elected government, troops on the street were there to prevent violence, not to confront the protesters or suppress the protest.
Moreover, the protests were not taking place to question the legitimacy of the government but its policies. Shiite leader Amar al-Hakim stated, "We can see the political money, temptations and seductions. Iraqi people don't want promises to disappear after the election. People will not obey any extortions," sounding very much like American supporters of McCain-Feingold or, ironically, earmark critic Senator Tom Coburn.
Contrast that with Iran, where Ashura sparked widespread anti-government protests. The nascent opposition, which took to the streets last summer to protested the rigged presidential elections, came out in force again, this time confronting security forces, with more protesters killed and scores arrested.'