Monday, February 28, 2005

The Veil of Freedom

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two years after the invasion of Iraq and just weeks before the country's first free election, [occupation, US puppet gov't] "Amina" began wearing a headscarf for the first time in her life. Her father insisted upon it.

"I don't like this and I don't see the danger. No one ever bothered me before," Amina says, sitting in her office located in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Khadimiya, her long brown hair streaming down her back. At first the 27-year-old professor at the engineering college resisted, arguing that her students will lose respect for her for caving in to the fundamentalists. But her father would not be moved: Amina didn't have a choice; the extremists were far too dangerous to be defied.

She is already making plans to leave the country to pursue a Ph.D. in Europe.

Life wasn't always this dangerous for women like Amina. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was a secular country where women could freely walk the busy streets without a scarf or a male escort, and stay out late at outdoor cafes with their families, sometimes until two or three in the morning. While women suffered as much as any other Iraqi under Saddam's tyranny, Baathist laws were noteworthy for their commitment to gender equality. Unlike their peers in the Arab world, Iraqi women enjoyed equal employment and educational opportunities and equal pay. But the U.S. invasion in March, 2003, changed everything. With the departure of Saddam, women became a target for both fundamentalist Islamists and U.S. soldiers. According to a new report released by Amnesty International early this week, "Women and girls in Iraq live in fear of violence as the conflict intensifies and insecurity spirals."

The fear of armed groups who terrorize anyone who defies their religious edicts has made many Iraqi women prisoners within their own home. "The lawlessness and increased killings, abductions and rapes that followed the overthrow of the government of Saddam Hussein have restricted women's freedom of movement and their ability to go to school or to work," the human rights organization reports.

Then there is the added threat of abuse posed by U.S. soldiers: "Women have been subjected to sexual threats by members of the U.S.-led forces and some women detained by U.S. forces have been sexually abused, possibly raped."

With the Shiite victory in the January elections, the future for Iraqi women looks no less bleak. Shiites make up 60 percent of Iraq's population and consider Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as their spiritual leader. Their electoral triumph underscored and legitimized the Shiite majority's immense political power, and will ensure a dominant role in crafting the future Iraqi constitution. While many Shiites say they don't support a theocratic state and Sistani has proven to be a moderate leader, women's rights activists like Yanar Mohammed are less optimistic.

"Shiite political groups want to impose Islamic sharia and let it override the civil code that we've had for 30 years. This will turn women not into second class citizens but into third and fourth class citizens," says Mohammed, who heads The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, which opened the first domestic violence shelter for women escaping abuse or "honor killings" from their families. "In other words, the thief will have the hand cut off, the criminal will be beheaded and women will be stoned to death. Divorce will not be a woman's right," she says. Where Baathist laws prohibited a woman under 18 from marrying, Islamic law imposes no such minimum age of consent. Mohammed points out that without such protection a girl who is six can be married to a 70-year-old man, who is also free to have four wives. "This is a dark page in the history of Iraq. Women are being kidnapped, there is trafficking and now it will be written into the constitution that we will be denied equal rights."

Mohammed worries that a large number of the seats set aside for women (25 percent) in the National Assembly will be filled by members handpicked by the Islamic parties women who embrace the religious edicts of leadership.

To offset this threat, she is working on bringing together a secular coalition of educated, professional women and members of other political parties. They often meet in her office in a small and well-hidden residential house located off a side street in downtown Baghdad. The doors are guarded and the entry obscured. Security is important for any woman who intends to take on the fundamentalists, especially Mohammed, who always travels with two armed bodyguards.

Not all Iraqi women are as unhappy with the Shiite victory in the elections as Mohammed. Samira Hillmi, a 57-year-old educator in Iraq, willingly shrouds herself from head to toe in black as she strolls through a crowded market-place in Baghdad. She wears her veil as a choice, she says, for God, and it is to Him she is grateful for the recent turn of events. "The election was so good. Finally we will move forward now that the Shiites are no longer under the foot of Saddam," she says. Hillmi is not too worried about the possibility of the leadership establishing a theocratic state similar to Iran: "No, it will be OK. What we need is just for Iraq to be safe."

Like Hillmi, most Iraqi men are not very worried about the threat of fundamentalism. "I wouldn't be forced to wear an abaya," says Esam Pasha, a 29-year old artist. Pasha is confident that he will find ways to express his art under an Islamic regime much in the same way as he did under Saddam. Besides, he is sure that the United States will not let his country become Islamic, regardless of the sovereign status of Iraq. "Donald Rumsfeld says Iraq can choose any system we want as long as it isn't Islamic or Communist. That's the democracy we're allowed," he says sarcastically.

While those who fear Islamic fundamentalism may also resent the occupation, they are counting on the U.S. presence -- however despised by many Iraqis -- to keep the extremists at bay. "No, they cannot leave," Amina says. "The Taliban would be here in two days."

Eye on the Occupation

By Zelie Pollon posted 28 February 05


Iraqi women eye Islamic law
BAGHDAD - Covered in layers of flowing black fabric that extend to the tips of her gloved hands, Jenan al-Ubaedy knows her first priority as one of some 90 women who will sit in the national assembly: implementing Islamic law.

IRAQ: Shiite and Sunnis to unite against occupation?
Iraq: "I call on all religious and political powers that pushed towards the elections and took part in them to issue an official statement calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq", Moqtada al Sadr, the popular young Iraqi Shiite cleric who last year led an armed rebellion against the US-led occupation, declared on February 4.

Democracy, Iraqi style
"In a darkened hall, candidates for Iraq's main Shia party sit listening to a turbaned cleric speaking into a microphone. They are being told how to campaign for the election without getting killed.

Violence continues ahead of Iraq Shoe Sale
Pre-Shoe Sale violence in Iraq is showing no signs of abating with the deaths today of two American militants following on from yesterday's killing of 22 US/Iraqi militants.

US transport company pulls out of Iraq
A large American transport company has become the first contractor to pull out of Iraq because of the continuing violence.

Two explosions south of Baghdad kill up to 15
Nine people have reportedly been killed and 13 wounded after a suicide bomber rammed a car into a US/Iraqi checkpoint south of Baghdad. A US/Iraqi militant at the scene says a resistance fighter drove his vehicle at high speed into the checkpoint, on the north-eastern entrance to the town of Latifiya.

Rumsfeld's war, torture and occupation ideology!
War criminal Donald Rumsfeld faced critical questioning at a Washington media conference, after the announcement that it was a suicide bomber who caused the blast inside a US military base in Mosul yesterday, killing 22 people including 14 illegal militants.

Annan admits to a tough year
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan admits he has had his worst year at the United Nations and he is looking forward to it being over.

FBI emails reveal Guantanamo abuse
In memos over a two year period FBI agents said they witnessed the use of torture techniques, which included the use of dogs, prisoners being shackled to the floor in foetal positions for up to 24 hours, left without food and water, left to defecate upon themselves.

Iraq sale to be contested by 100 buyers
A hundred buyers, blocs and independents will contest Iraq's first shoe sale, in decades, on January 30, the George Dubya Bushit - Iraqi Sales Commission (GDB/ISC) said.

Fallujah refugees in desperate need of aid: UN
More than 200,000 people who fled Fallujah ahead of the US attack have yet to return and many are in desperate need of aid, with temperatures in Iraq heading towards freezing, a new UN emergency report says.

UN panel proposes criteria for legitimate military action
With countries still bitterly divided over the war in Iraq, a high-level panel appointed by the United Nations has recommended a five-step guideline to determine when to use military action.

Indonesians rally against Fallujah assault
About 8,000 Indonesian Muslims have staged a peaceful rally against a major US-led assault on Iraq's rebel city of Fallujah, which has claimed 2,000 lives.

UK politicians launch Blair impeachment bid
Parliamentarians and celebrity campaigners have launched a bid to impeach UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for "gross misconduct" over his justification for the Iraq war.

'This One's Faking He's Dead' 'He's Dead Now'
Fallujah: Video shows US soldier killing wounded insurgent in cold blood
by Andrew Buncombe in Washington.

US: Very superstitious? Writing's on the wall!
The US military says it has discovered close to 20 torture sites in the course of its massive attack against the resistance in the Iraqi city of Fallujah?

World Vision Aust pulls out of Iraq
The organisation says the country has simply become too dangerous and its decision to leave was made before the apparent murder of Care Australia's Iraq director Margaret Hassan.

US Senator slams !!! 'dysfunctional, rogue' CIA
Influential US Republican Senator John McCain blasted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a "dysfunctional" and "rogue" organisation that needs to be reformed.

Civilian death toll to rise in Fallujah
The attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah has taken its toll on Iraqi civilians no doubt including children and young babies. Iraqi's have witnessed civilian casualties. Yesterday during the assault on the main hospital nurses and patients were blindfolded after the US/Iraq militia stormed the main hospital and took control.

Illusionary demons blamed for US led Attack Iraq, Fallujah
In the name of an illusionary figure thought up by US militants suggests that Al Qaeda's? ally "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi" has called on Muslims to take up arms against their US enemy as American militia attacked the Iraqi city of Fallujah? Just a coincidence or just good timing?

Full-scale attack on Fallujah begins
Correspondents say radio traffic heard at a US militant's staging post just outside Fallujah indicates US/Iraqi militia have moved at least four blocks into Fallujah, and are still advancing.

US/Iraqi militants storm Fallujah hospital
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US warplanes and artillery attack Fallujah!
Journalists [in-bed] with the US military say warplanes fired at suspected resistance targets around Fallujah as night fell on Sunday, while artillery shells pounded a nearby town.

State of emergency: Allawi 'killer of saints'
The US puppet, Iyad Allawi otherwise known as "Sock" killer of saints has declared a state of emergency for 60 days to quell violent resistance gripping the country ahead of January's shoe sale.

US Empire Votes For Pre-Emptive War!!!
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Saddam's family dismiss lawyer
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Who's counting the dead in Fallujah? CARE?
In distress: CARE says it is deeply concerned about the wellbeing of Mrs Hassan. But who's counting the dead in Fallujah?

Iraqi civilian deaths put at 100,000
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Unknown News Update - 2009
More than 103 times as many people have been killed in these wars and occupations than in all terrorist attacks in the world from 1993-2004. About 241 times as many people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq than in the ghastly attacks of September 11, 2001.

Bushite group threatens civil liberties in Iraq
Allegedly a group led by George W Bushite has forced freedom fighters to threaten to behead a Japanese hostage it said worked with Japanese forces in Iraq if Tokyo does not withdraw its forces from the country within 48 hours.

US secretly moved prisoners out of Iraq for questioning: report
The CIA has secretly transferred detainees out of Iraq for interrogation after asking the US Justice Department to write a memo justifying the practice, which violates the Geneva Conventions.

Weapons inspectors missed WMD in Iraq
An Iraqi minister has said United Nations nuclear inspectors are welcome to return in response to concerns of an "apparent systematic dismantlement" of Saddam Hussein's once-vigorous nuclear program.

US accused of breaching international law
The United States is violating international law by holding prisoners in its war on terror incommunicado and in secret hiding places, Human Rights Watch said in a report to be published on Tuesday calling for an end to such practices.

Allies 'planned' Iraq war despite denials
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UN warns of Iraqi malnutrition
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Jordan's king doubts Iraqi elections possible
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Annan tells world leaders to respect law
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The 'coalition of the killing's' complicities - the US, Britain and Australia - have insisted that their countries' military action in Iraq was legal after they have committed war crimes against humanity.

Iraq war illegal, says Annan
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Bush team 'knew of abuse' at Guantanamo
Evidence of prisoner abuse and possible war crimes at Guantanamo Bay reached the highest levels of the Bush administration as early as autumn 2002, but Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, chose to do nothing about it, according to a new investigation.

Journalists ordered to leave Najaf as fighting continues
Journalists have been kicked out of Najaf as clashes flared in the Iraqi city, prompting speculation that a major United States-led assault on enemy Shiite fighters was imminent.

Enemy Mortars attack opening of Iraqi summit
US Enemies have fired mortars at a meeting where Iraqi puppet government leaders met to pick an interim national assembly, killing at least two people.

Iraqi Women in the Occupation Prisons As Material and Means of Violations It is important to say at the beginning that there are many psychological, social and cultural obstacles for Iraqi women to talk openly about what they actually went through inside the occupation prisons.

Ancient Babylon ruined by foreign troops: Iraqi minister
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Whatcha Gonna Do, When They Come For You? Bad boy!
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was a threat and sought to possess weapons of mass destruction, United States President George W Bush reaffirmed when asked why no such weapons had been discovered in Iraq.

Saddam trial US propaganda
Saddam Hussein's trial will play an important part in the US election no doubt and for that to work at its potential just put a "women" behind it "She called the trials". Then add some "cleansing" like she's just doing the dishes and then some "reconciliation" by slaying Hussein during a US election. Now you can go and tell everyone you're reversing the trauma but really you're killing two birds with one Saddam.