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Hullabaloo


Saturday, February 19, 2005

 
Are You Proud Of Yourself Condi?

Many have written about this moving and sad post at Riverbend and I hope that many people will read it and pass it on.

This Iraqi woman has not been liberated. She is being slowly imprisoned, probably for the rest of her life, by a male dominated fundamentalist (that's a redundancy) religious political system that is going to ruin her life. You can feel it in her words. It's one of the saddest things I've read in the long trail of horrors that this Iraq misadventure has wrought.

I nodded and handed over the bags to be weighed. “Well… they’re going to turn us into another Iran. You know list 169 means we might turn into Iran.” Abu Ammar pondered this a moment as he put the bags on the old brass scale and adjusted the weights.

“And is Iran so bad?” He finally asked. Well no, Abu Ammar, I wanted to answer, it’s not bad for *you* - you’re a man… if anything your right to several temporary marriages, a few permanent ones and the right to subdue females will increase. Why should it be so bad? Instead I was silent. It’s not a good thing to criticize Iran these days. I numbly reached for the bags he handed me, trying to rise out of that sinking feeling that overwhelmed me when the results were first made public.

It’s not about a Sunni government or a Shia government- it’s about the possibility of an Iranian-modeled Iraq. Many Shia are also appalled with the results of the elections. There’s talk of Sunnis being marginalized by the elections but that isn’t the situation. It’s not just Sunnis- it’s moderate Shia and secular people in general who have been marginalized.

The list is frightening- Da’awa, SCIRI, Chalabi, Hussein Shahristani and a whole collection of pro-Iran political figures and clerics. They are going to have a primary role in writing the new constitution. There’s talk of Shari’a, or Islamic law, having a very primary role in the new constitution. The problem is, whose Shari’a? Shari’a for many Shia differs from that of Sunni Shari’a. And what about all the other religions? What about Christians and Mendiyeen?

Is anyone surprised that the same people who came along with the Americans – the same puppets who all had a go at the presidency last year – are the ones who came out on top in the elections? Jaffari, Talbani, Barazani, Hakim, Allawi, Chalabi… exiles, convicted criminals and war lords. Welcome to the new Iraq.

[...]

It’s also not about covering the hair. I have many relatives and friends who wore a hijab before the war. It’s the principle. It’s having so little freedom that even your wardrobe is dictated. And wardrobe is just the tip of the iceberg. There are clerics and men who believe women shouldn’t be able to work or that they shouldn’t be allowed to do certain jobs or study in specific fields. Something that disturbed me about the election forms was that it indicated whether the voter was ‘male’ or ‘female’- why should that matter? Could it be because in Shari’a, a women’s vote or voice counts for half of that of a man? Will they implement that in the future?

Baghdad is once more shrouded in black. The buildings and even some of the houses have large black pieces of cloth hanging upon them, as if the whole city is mourning the election results. It’s because of “Ashoura” or the ten days marking the beginning of the Islamic New Year but also marking the death of the Prophet’s family 1400+ years ago in what is now known as Karbala. That means there are droves of religious Shia dressed in black from head to foot (sometimes with a touch of green or red) walking in the streets and beating themselves with special devices designed for this occasion.

We’ve been staying at home most of the time because it’s not a good idea to leave the house during these ten days. It took us an hour and 20 minutes to get to my aunt’s house yesterday because so many streets were closed with masses of men chanting and beating themselves. To say it is frightening is an understatement. Some of the men are even bleeding and they wear white to emphasize all the blood flowing down backs and foreheads. It’s painful to see small children wearing black clothes and carrying miniature chains that really don’t hurt, but look so bizarre.


I urge you to read the whole thing.

Despite what the right wing would have everyone believe, one of the primary reasons liberals supported the invasion of Afghanistan was to end the documented horrors that women suffered under the Taliban. Long before the Bush admnistration was negotiating with the Taliban or Republican congressmen were holding privatre meetings with Mullah Omar's lieutenants trying to make deals for pipelines, Hollywood liberals like Mavis Leno were spearheading the despised Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan. Everything about the Taliban was anathema to people like us who value freedom and equality. When that religious fundamentalist government enabled the direct attack on the United States there was every reason on both moral and national security grounds to support the invasion of that country. Life could not be much worse than it was under the Taliban.

Iraq was always much more complicated. Many of us were extremely suspicious of the evidence that Saddam posed a threat to the United States and as horrible as his regime was, there was always the liklihood that the country would eventually fall into civil war and itself become a fundamentalist theocracy --- thus making daily life for a full fifty percent of the population many degrees worse than it was under Saddam. It was never a pretty calculation but it was realistic. We knew all this going in and it is one of the reasons why it was never easy to simply wave the flag and proclaim ourselves liberators. Unless everything went exactly as envisioned by the starry eyed neocons, there was every chance that we would actually make many people less free by our actions.

It appears that this is happening. Not that anyone cares, mind you. If half of the Iraqi population sees a substantial loss of personal freedom from our liberation, it isn't really a problem. They are, after all, only women.

We on the left are being chastized daily for being terrorist sympathizers. Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are said to be on the other side. Any criticism of the government is Unamerican. And all of this is based upon the idea that liberals are rejecting Western values and putting ourselves in league with Islamic fundamentalists. This is literally nonsensical.

In point of fact, the argument could much more easily be made that it is the other way around. It grows more and more likely that the right, who wholeheartedly supported the war and are currently supporting the political handling of the occupation, deposed a totalitarian dictator to install a repressive fundamentalist theocracy in its place. I fail to see how that advances the cause of our country or western civilization. Indeed, it is a betrayal of everything we stand for.

Who are the real traitors to western enlightenment values --- those of us who find both totalitarianism and religious fundamentalism abominations or those who topple dictators to install theocracy? I'd ask the women of Iraq in about five years what they think. Of course, they won't be allowed to speak freely, so we'll probably never know.



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