Students in Baghdad have called a strike in protest at the murder of Dr Ali Abdul Razaq al-Naas, a journalism lecturer from Mustansiriya university and popular TV commentator.
The students from one of Iraq’s oldest universities, clashed with riot police during a demonstration in protest at the killing of al-Naas. They have called on journalists and government workers to join their protest.
Al-Nass was gunned down by unknown assailants in the Iraqi captial on 27 January after he called for an end to the occupation during a TV panel show.
Many prominent Iraqi journalists have now joined the Baghdad students’ campaign.
Hamid Abdullah, a columnist on the al-Mashriq daily, told his readers he was joining the protest because there is “no freedom with chaos, no effective word with treacherous bullet”.
Another senior journalist, Hatem Hassan, announced he was joining the strike on 3 February.
The murder of al-Naas has highlighted the difficulties faced by university professors, scientists and teachers in Iraq.
According to the Brussels Tribunal, an anti-war organisation that monitors the occupation of Iraq, over 250 Iraqi educators have been assassinated and hundreds have disappeared since the invasion in 2003.
Many of them are believed to have been killed because of their outspoken opposition to the occupation.
Among the victims have been Abdul Aziz el-Atrachi, a professor from the College of Agriculture and Forestry in Mosul, who was gunned down in front of his students by US soldiers.
Another is Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly, a distinguished chemistry professor, who died while being interogated in US custody.
Others have been gunned down by masked men on their way home or outside universities.
The Brussels Tribunal has denounced the murders as a “catastrophe of staggering proportions unfolding in a climate of criminal disregard”.
It has launched an online petition campaign to “end the silence” over the killings.
For more information on the campaign to defend Iraqi academics go to www.brusselstribunal.org