A third of the country is under the control of ISIS; austerity is looming due to the fall of oil prices and budget deficit crisis; nearly two million people are displaced, more than half of whom are enduring the winter cold in the camps; and political disputes still dominate the country.
Thus, even before the beginning of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, activists called on those running the Husseini parades and cooking on the streets to do something else: rather than wasting the money on food that will be distributed to households, spend it to help the displaced handle the hunger and cold. This became especially pressing after the U.N. had cut its aid to the displaced and corruption allegations had surfaced in regards to the Iraqi government’s distribution of food and money to the displaced. Activists’ pleas, though, have not been met.
This year has also witnessed vocal resentment expressed by Iraqi social media users particularly following a series of scandals involving officials: while Basra’s streets and buildings were flooded with rain, its governor was busy pandering for the support of Ayatollah Sistani; while his nephew was involved in kidnapping crimes, the Iraqi Transport Minister was beating his chest in mourning ceremonies; and as the extent of the “phantom” civilian and military employees scandal involving the Iraqi government was revealed, then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was hobbling from one procession to another.