Demonstrations erupted in Iraq after Shia Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, detained the bodyguards of the country's Sunni finance minister. Over 60,000 Sunnis in Iraq began protesting the government’s favoritism towards the Shia population at the end of December 2012. Many Iraqis fear that al-Maliki is becoming a dictator, are concerned that he is failing to provide citizens with necessary public services, and are demanding he release all those unjustly detained. Although these demonstrations have been relatively peaceful, security forces resorted to gunfire to disperse the protesters. Al-Maliki responded to the protests by releasing 700 women from prison, but has warned against the continuation of more protests.