...a new movement seems to be emerging, too, among students and young professionals clearly inspired by the events in Egypt and also by their own disappointments with Iraq's democratic experiment.
Multiple groups are springing up on Facebook calling for protests to demand reforms, among them No to Silence, Baghdad Won't Be Kandahar, the Blue Revolution and one simply called Join US Soon for the Biggest Ever Youth Sit-In in Baghdad, which initiated the small protest Friday in Tahrir Square.
Elections are a mechanism, a means, but they are not the destination," said Hadi Jalu of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory. "We have a sort of democracy in Iraq, but this democracy is being run in a very bad way."
Torture remains widespread in Iraqi prisons, and thousands of Iraqis are detained for long periods without trial
, according to an Amnesty International report last week. The watchdog group Transparency International ranks Iraq the fourth most corrupt country in the world
, with Egypt faring far better, at No. 80. The Iraqi government estimates overall unemployment at 15 percent, higher than Egypt's official rate of 10 percent.
...many Iraqis question how free they are. An expanding roster of rules regulating the media and the closure of media outlets critical of the government, including the recently shuttered Baghdadiya TV station and the Arabic service of al-Jazeera, have raised concerns about press freedoms. Activists say a maze of bureaucratic requirements makes it almost impossible to secure permission to hold demonstrations.