BAGHDAD (AP) – An al-Qaida-affiliated group in Iraq has called on Sunnis to take up arms against the Shiite-led government, as sectarian tensions and large Sunni protests increase.

In an audio statement posted Friday on the website of the Islamic State of Iraq, spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani says Sunnis can bow to the Shiites or to take up arms to restore “dignity and freedom.”

Al-Adnani says recent Sunni protests against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki mark the end of Sunni humiliation in Iraq.
Thousands of Sunnis rallied Friday in the city of Fallujah in the western province of Anbar.

Protesters complain of official discrimination, saying anti-terrorism laws and other policies largely target minority Sunnis. The protests were
sparked by the December arrests of bodyguards of a senior Sunni politician.