Sheep take over streets of Madrid for annual migration

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Shepherds leading more than 1800 sheep arrived at the Spanish capital, to promote the conservation of the ancient paths of transhumance (moving flocks from winter to summer pastures). (AFP/Oscar del Pozo)
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A flock of sheep walks past Madrid's Cityhall during the annual sheep parade through Madrid, Spain, October 20, 2019. (Reuters/Sergio Perez)
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A flock of sheep walks past Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s famous landmark, during the annual sheep parade through Madrid, Spain, October 20, 2019. (Reuters/Sergio Perez)
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Shepherds guided sheep through the Madrid streets in defence of ancient grazing and migration rights that seem increasingly threatened by urban sprawl and modern agricultural practices. (AP/Paul White)
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A child touches a sheep during the annual sheep parade through Madrid, Spain, October 20, 2019. (Reuters/Sergio Perez)
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A shepherd herds his sheep as flocks of sheep and goats crossed the city center of Madrid on October 20, 2019. (AFP/Oscar del Pozo)
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A flock of sheep walks past Madrid's City Hall during the annual sheep parade through Madrid, Spain, October 20, 2019. (Reuters/Sergio Perez)
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Livestock are driven through the streets of central Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP/Paul White)
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A police officer speaks on her radio as a flock of sheep pass through central Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP/Paul White)
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Flocks of sheep and goats are herded in the city center of Madrid on October 20, 2019. (AFP/Oscar del Pozo)
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A man stands behind fences as a flock of sheep walks past during the annual sheep parade through Madrid, Spain, October 20, 2019. (Reuters/Sergio Perez)
Updated 20 October 2019

Sheep take over streets of Madrid for annual migration

  • The annual event, which started in 1994, allows shepherds to exercise their right to use traditional routes to migrate their livestock
  • The herd includes 2,000 merino sheep and 100 goats

MADRID: Sheep replaced traffic on the streets of Madrid on Sunday as shepherds steered their flocks through the heart of the Spanish capital, following ancient migration routes.
The annual event, which started in 1994, allows shepherds to exercise their right to use traditional routes to migrate their livestock from northern Spain to more southerly pastures for winter grazing.
The route would have taken them through undeveloped countryside a few centuries ago, but today it cuts through Madrid’s bustling city center and along some of its most famous streets.
Sheep farmers pay a nominal charge in symbolic acknowledgement of a 1418 agreement with the city council that set a fee of 50 maravedis — medieval coins — per 1,000 sheep brought through the central Sol square and Gran Via street.
The herd includes 2,000 merino sheep and 100 goats.


Baghdad tunnel becomes a museum for Iraq’s protest movement

Updated 22 November 2019

Baghdad tunnel becomes a museum for Iraq’s protest movement

  • The Saadoun Tunnel has become an ad hoc museum for Iraq’s massive anti-government protest movement
  • Haydar Mohammed said, “We decided to draw simple paintings to support our protester brothers and to express our message, which is a peace message.”

BAGHDAD: The images are both haunting and inspiring, transforming a once dreary, grim underpass into a vivid, colorful wall of art.
“We want a nation, not a prison,” says one painting that depicts a man bursting free from behind bars. “Plant a revolution, and you will harvest a nation,” reads another showing a hand flashing the victory sign over protesters heads.
Some of the messages are less sentimental. “Look at us, Americans, this is all your fault,” declares one.
The Saadoun Tunnel has become an ad hoc museum for Iraq’s massive anti-government protest movement. Along its walls, young artists draw murals, portraits and graffiti that illustrate the country’s tortured past and the Iraq they aspire to.
The tunnel passes under Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests where thousands of people are camped out in a giant sit-in that has taken on the feel of a vibrant mini-city.
Almost daily, clashes erupt with security forces not far away firing tear gas, live rounds and stun grenades to prevent protesters from crossing bridges over the Tigris River to the Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government. Tuk tuks — three-wheeled motorcycle transports — often zip back and forth through the Saadoun Tunnel, rushing wounded protesters from the front lines to medical clinics.
Saadoun Tunnel, the tuk tuks, the square and a nearby 14-story Saddam Hussein-era building on the Tigris that protesters took over have all become symbols of what has become the largest grassroots protest movement Iraq has seen. The protests erupted Oct. 1 over longstanding grievances at corruption, unemployment and a lack of basic services and quickly escalated into calls to sweep aside Iraq’s sectarian system imposed after the 2003 US invasion and its entire political elite.
Young protesters, men and women, throng the tunnel — actually a long underpass, most of which is open to the air except for enclosed portions directly beneath Tahrir — and pass time there hanging out or taking selfies in front of the murals. Caricatures on the walls mock Iraqi politicians; other paintings praise the tuk tuks; a woman with an Iraqi flag on her cheek flexes her bicep, recreating the famed US “We Can Do It” poster; faces in drawings shout in anger or pain.
Haydar Mohammed said he and a group of other medical students were partly responsible for the murals. They met in Tahrir and saw the tunnels walls were a perfect medium to send a message to those who are suspicious of the protesters, he said.
“We are life-makers not death-makers,” he said. “We decided to draw simple paintings to support our protester brothers and to express our message, which is a peace message.”
Many of the murals carry calls for anti-sectarianism, peace and a free Iraq. In one painting, a little girl cries, declaring “They killed my dream,” referring to the group of men behind her, some in religious clothes.
Another shows an Iraqi protester wearing a helmet against tear gas with the Arabic words: “In the heart is something that cannot be killed by guns, which is the nation.” Nearby is scrawled, in English, “All What I want is life.”
“Sitting in front of these portraits, people and candles is better than being in any coffeeshop. Every time I look at them I am hopeful that the revolution will not end,” said Yahya Mohammed, 32, smoking a hookah in the tunnel and observing the scene.
“This tunnel gives me hope.”