The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Protesters hack Iraqi parliament website: ‘Idiots are leading the country’

Followers of Iraq's Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrate at the parliament building after lawmakers failed to convene for a vote on overhauling the government in Iraq on April 30. (Ahmed Saad)

BAGHDAD — First they ransacked parliament, sending the country's lawmakers fleeing for safety. Now, Iraqi protesters have taken their fight against government corruption online, hacking the parliament's website.

Pictures of three Iraqis who are said to have died in recent protests were displayed Wednesday afternoon on the legislature's official site, which usually runs parliament news and statements from politicians. "Revenge for the martyrs of the peaceful demonstrations," it read. "Idiots are leading the country."

It scoffed at the alleged cost the site took to build, with the government frequently accused of wasting the country's oil wealth: "This website cost a million dollars!" It shouldn't have cost more than $1,000, it said.

Thousands of Iraqis have been carrying out demonstrations against their government since last summer, but the protests swelled earlier this year after Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr thew his weight behind them. The website played a popular pro-Sadrist tune that calls for reform.

Six weeks ago they broke into the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, entering parliament and assaulting politicians they accused of being corrupt.

Though beginning relatively peacefully, demonstrations turned violent last month, as security forces used tear gas and live rounds to push back the demonstrators as they tried to break into the Green Zone a second time.

Shortly after, the government announced its offensive to retake the western city of Fallujah from the Islamic State, an offensive the hackers accused the government of using as a "trick" to distract from the protesters' demands. The website of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was also hacked.

"I don't need to speak about your corruption, or the corruption of your party, because people are aware of the thieves that are stealing their money," it said.

The compromised sites links to a Facebook page, allegedly belonging to the hacker. He responded to messages saying he was a 25-year-old university student based in Baghdad.

"I participated in the demonstrations, but not all of them because I had exams," he said.

Read more:

State of emergency declared in Baghdad as protesters take Iraqi parliament

Beyond terrorism, Iraq’s leader is struggling to fight corruption

He once fought U.S. troops. Now Moqtada al-Sadr is battling Iraq’s political system.