BAGHDAD, April 15 (UPI) -- More than 100 Iraqis protested in Baghdad Tuesday against what they called the U.S. military occupation, shouting "Death to America... Death to Bush."
An estimated 150 residents of Baghdad gathered in front of Palestine Hotel, headquarters of the U.S. military command, and called for the evacuation of U.S. and British "occupation troops" from Iraq.
Political parties, which were banned under Saddam Hussein's regime, and new political groupings distributed leaflets in the streets of Baghdad, urging Iraqis to close ranks and reject foreign occupation.
Some groups held banners that read "Iraq First."
The Iraqi Communist Party circulated a statement calling for "national solidarity and unity" to face the deteriorating political and security situation caused by the collapse of the Baath regime. It also called for setting up of popular committees in various neighborhoods and trade centers to protect private and public property and curb rampant looting and robberies.
"We urge Iraqis to boost national unity away from any foreign interference," the statement said.
Other groups, including the Muslim Daawa party, wrote graffiti on the walls of public buildings urging Iraqis to achieve national reconciliation and reject dissension.
Also Tuesday, a group of Iraqi intellectuals, including university professors and academicians, called for a meeting at the faculty of arts in Baghdad's University "to discuss means for safeguarding what was left of Iraq's cultural and educational institutions," which were also targeted by looters and thieves.
Baghdad University professor Youssef Khales said all Iraqi intellectuals, including media and journalists, were invited to attend the meeting Saturday "in an attempt to salvage Iraqi culture from destruction."