Iraqi minister resigns amid protests
March 1, 2013 -- Updated 2041 GMT (0441 HKT)
An Iraqi boy wears a placard reading 'Baghdad we are coming' during rally on March 1, 2013 in Hawijah, near Kirkuk.
- Iraqi Finance Minister Rafaie al-Esawi announces his resignation
- He says the government has not met the demands of protestors
- The protests began after his bodyguards were arrested on government orders
(CNN) -- Iraqi Finance Minister Rafaie al-Esawi announced his resignation Friday, a move triggered by daily demonstrations by Sunnis over grievances they have against the Shiite-dominated government, his spokesman said.
Sunni demonstrators in provinces such as Anbar and Mosul have called for an end to what they consider second-class treatment.
The finance minister resigned because the government has not met the demands of the demonstrators to end the marginalization, spokesman Aysar Ali told CNN.
READ: Bombs target Shiite neighborhoods, claim 21lives in Iraq
The protests began in late December when Sunni demonstrators took to the streets in Anbar province to protest an order to arrest the bodyguards of al-Esawi, a Sunni.
Iraqi soldiers fire on protesters
The arrest of al-Esawi's bodyguards came just hours after President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who was widely viewed as a stabilizing political force in Iraq, left the country about two weeks after suffering a stroke.
The protesters also are demanding the release of detainees they say are being held without charges, calling the government corrupt and accusing it of unfairly targeting Iraq's Sunni people.
The protests grew in January, when at least seven people were killed in shootings during a protest by Sunnis in Falluja.
The Sunni protests have been countered by mostly Shiite, pro-government demonstrations, raising fears that the sectarian division could bring violence in the streets.
Sunnis make up about 20% of Iraq's estimated population of more than 27 million, whereas about 60% to 65% are Shiite.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime in 2003, Sunnis in Iraq have been largely disaffected. The gulf was widened in 2005 when Sunnis boycotted the country's election, opening the way to a heavily dominated Shiite government.
CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
James Dawes: Evil is the strongest word we have to prepare ourselves to kill others.
August 23, 2014 -- Updated 0159 GMT (0959 HKT)
As protests over the shooting of an unarmed black teen calmed down, the question remains: Where's the police officer who pulled the trigger?
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
CNN's Tim Lister: Getting rid of ISIS will be tougher than taking on al Qaeda.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 0042 GMT (0842 HKT)
American patients infected with Ebola are being released from the hospital. What now?
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1048 GMT (1848 HKT)
One of the first observers at the MH17 crash site in Ukraine describes the harrowing scene.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
Five survivors of acid attacks capture India's attention with a "ground breaking" photo shoot.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
"We are like one grain of sand against a whole beach," says Eibar fan Unai Eraso.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1022 GMT (1822 HKT)
From fierce protests in Ferguson, to an Ebola survivor discharged from a hospital in Atlanta, browse through the photos of the week.
Today's five most popular stories