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Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

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    Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

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    Who will win this battle; the women or Ali al-Sistani?

    Published on Thursday, June 8, 2006 by the Independent / UK
    For the Women of Iraq, the War is Just Beginning
    by Terri Judd


    The women of Basra have disappeared. Three years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, women's secular freedoms - once the envy of women across the Middle East - have been snatched away because militant Islam is rising across the country.

    Across Iraq, a bloody and relentless oppression of women has taken hold. Many women had their heads shaved for refusing to wear a scarf or have been stoned in the street for wearing make-up. Others have been kidnapped and murdered for crimes that are being labelled simply as "inappropriate behaviour". The insurrection against the fragile and barely functioning state has left the country prey to extremists whose notion of freedom does not extend to women.

    In the British-occupied south, where Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army retains a stranglehold, women insist the situation is at its worst. Here they are forced to live behind closed doors only to emerge, concealed behind scarves, hidden behind husbands and fathers. Even wearing a pair of trousers is considered an act of defiance, punishable by death.

    One Basra woman, known only as Dr Kefaya, was working in the women and children's hospital unit at the city university when she started receiving threats from extremists. She defied them. Then, one day a man walked into the building and murdered her.

    Eman Aziz, one of the first women to speak publicly about the dangers, said:"There were five people on the death list with Dr Kefaya. They were threatened 'If you continue working, you will be killed'."

    Many women are too afraid to complain. But, fearful that their rights will be eroded for good, some have taken the courageous step of speaking out.

    Dr Kefaya was only one of many professional women murdered in recent months. Speaking to The Independent near Saddam's old palace in the middle of Basra, Mrs Aziz, reeled off the names of other dead friends. Three of her university class have been killed since the invasion. "My friend Sheda and her sister. They were threatened. One day they returned to their house with two other women. They were all shot," she said. Her language is chillingly perfunctory.

    "And my friend Lubna, she was with her fiancé. They shot him in the arm and then killed her in front of him," she explained. Then there were the two sisters who worked in the laundry at Basra Palace base. With a shrug, she briefly detailed each life cut short.

    Under Saddam, women played little part in political life but businesswomen and academics travelled the country unchallenged while their daughters mixed freely with male students at university.

    Now, even the most emancipated woman feels cowed.

    A television producer Arij Al-Soltan, 27, now exiled, said: "It is much worse for women in the south. I blame the British for not taking a strong stand."

    Sajeda Hanoon Alebadi, 37, who - like Mrs Aziz - has now taken to wearing a headscarf, said: "Women are being assassinated. We know the people behind it are saying we have a fatwa, these are not good women, they should be killed."

    Behind the wave of insurgent attacks, the violence against women who dare to challenge the Islamic orthodoxy is growing. Fatwas banning women from driving or being seen out alone are regularly issued.

    Infiltrated by militia, the police are unwilling or unable to crack down on the fundamentalists.

    Ms Alebadi said: "After the fall of the regime, the religious extremist parties came out on to the streets and threatened women. Although the extremists are in the minority, they control powerful positions, so they control Basra."

    To venture on the streets today without a male relative is to risk attack, humiliation or kidnap.

    A journalist, Shatta Kareem, said: "I was driving my car one day when someone just crashed into me and drove me off the road. If a woman is seen driving these days it is considered a violation of men's rights."

    There is a fear that Islamic law will become enshrined in the new legislation. Ms Aziz said: "In the Muslim religion, if a man dies his money goes to a male member of the family. After the Iran-Iraq war, there were so many widows that Saddam changed the law so it would go to the women and children. Now it has been changed back."

    Mrs Alebadi estimated that as many as 70 per cent of women in Basra had been widowed by the constant conflicts. "You see widows on the streets begging at the intersections."

    Optimists say the very fact that 25 per cent of Iraq's Provincial Council is composed of women proves women have been empowered since the invasion. But the people of Basra say it is a smokescreen. Any woman who becomes a part of the system, they say, is incapable of engineering any change for the better. Posters around the city promoting the constitution graphically illustrate that view. The faces of the women candidates have been blacked out, the accompanying slogan, "No women in politics," a stark reminder of the opposition they face.

    Ms Aziz said: "Women members of the Provincial Council had many dreams but they were told 'With respect, you don't know anything. This is a world of men. Your view is good but not better.' More and more they just agreed to sign whatever they were told. We have got women in power, who are powerless."

    Many of the British officers in Basra say they feel "uncomfortable" with the situation but a spokesman for the Foreign Office would only say: "As part of the new government's programme, they do say in their top 10 items to be looked at that women constitute half of society and are nurturers of the other half and, therefore, must take an active role in building the society and the state. Their rights should be respected in all fields."

    In the villages around Basra, the shy women who peer round doorways are uncomplaining. For one Marsh Arab, Makir Jafar, the fact she has been given enough education to help her 10-year-old son with his homework is enough. "Life is nice. There is the river. I do not want for anything," she said.

    There is a growing fear among educated women, however, that the extreme dangers of daily life will allow the issue of women's oppression to remain unchallenged. In Mrs Kareem's words: "Men have been given a voice. But women will not get their part in building this country."

    © 2006 Independent News and Media Limited
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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    I read the article yesterday. It made me cry.

    May peace come to all people of !raq!
    Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Peace
    glocandle ani 1 - Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]

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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    peace be upon those who follow righteous guidence,

    i thought this article was typical biased reporting, if someone in britain beats up a robber or locks a shop lifter up in his garage then does that mean british law is wrong?

    no of-course not, so why when some vigilante does something stupid do the british and the rest of the west use it to slander shariah?


    here is my letter i wrote to the independent in protest...

    their letters page email for those who want to contribute is [email protected]

    dont forget a name and address, as well as a day time contact number.

    Dear Editor,

    Your Thursday front-page article about the unjust killings of women in Iraq for not covering themselves to the Islamic standard will no doubt cause alarm for all right thinking people – Muslim or non-Muslim.

    But the truth is the vast majority of Muslim women worldwide who cover themselves do so out of a modesty born from a sincere appreciation of faith not pressure from families or society and this is a fact that perhaps many liberals such as the writers for your newspaper are unable to understand.

    It is also a fact that many liberals cannot comprehend is why out of the thousands of Western Converts to Islam each year, at least two thirds of them are women. So why are Western Women joining a faith that is so ‘oppressive’ towards their gender?

    Up and down the UK on Saturday 17th of June many Mosques are opening their doors to non-Muslims to come and look around and ask questions from 12.00pm – 6.00pm. My own local Mosque, Masjid Umar on Barnsley Road in Sheffield is one of the Mosques taking part in this National event organised by UK Islamic Mission.

    Your papers exploitation of such dreadful killings to attack Shariah law and the idea of Hijab itself as oppression is also unjust act by your reporter Terri Judd. It is to be hoped some of your reporters and readers will take this opportunity of National Mosque Open Day to educate themselves about the true teachings of Islam and not resort to such awful stereotypes that have progressed little since the 1980’s.


    Daw’ud Mannion (formally David Mannion)
    Sheffield, UK

    peace be upon those who follow righteous guidence,

    Daw'ud
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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Hi Dawud

    Thank you for posting your letter to the editor here.
    It is well written and gives a positive view of Islam in Britain.

    Since visiting this forum I have come to understand and respect many women's view on wearing the hijab, and I realise that most women choose to wear the scarf.

    However, the article raises serious concerns about women in Iraq being not just oppressed, but also killed; and not just for not wearing the hijab, but also for driving, working or going out alone.
    I did not have the impression that these accounts were plucked out of thin air - they were based on the witness of women who had the courage to come forward and speak out, and probably risked their lifes by doing so.

    Yes, they are breaking Iraqi law and are therefore deemed by some to 'deserve' their punishment. But, as the article points out, certain laws, which have been changes recently, disadvantage women and cause oppression and hardship.

    Much as I appreciate your letter to the editor, I think it addresses these issues only marginally.

    How exciting to write a letter to the paper though! Have you done that before? Or did you feel particularly strongly about this?

    peace.
    Last edited by glo; 06-09-2006 at 06:59 AM.
    Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Peace
    glocandle ani 1 - Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]

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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    format_quote Originally Posted by glo View Post
    Hi Dawud

    Thank you for posting your letter to the editor here.
    It is well written and gives a positive view of Islam in Britain.

    Since visiting this forum I have come to understand and respect many women's view on wearing the hijab, and I realise that most women choose to wear the scarf.

    However, the article raises serious concerns about women in Iraq being not just oppressed, but also killed; and not just for not wearing the hijab, but also for driving, working or going out alone.
    I did not have the impression that these accounts were plucked out of thin air - they were based on the witness of women who had the courage to come forward and speak out, and probably risked their lifes by doing so.

    Yes, they are breaking Iraqi law and are therefore deemed by some to 'deserve' their punishment. But, as the article points out, certain laws, which have been changes recently, disadvantage women and cause oppression and hardship.

    Much as I appreciate your letter to the editor, I think it addresses these issues only marginally.

    How exciting to write a letter to the paper though! Have you done that before? Or did you feel particularly strongly about this?

    peace.

    peace glo,

    i was trying to turn a negative to a postive and try to use the news item to hopefully God willing get some of the biased newspaper journalists to actually step into their local mosque on the 17th and find out just a little more what islam actually is all about.

    in strict islamic law there are checks and balances, yes women inherit less but what they have is their's alone and so hence the joke in many practicing families by the wife which is "what is mine is mine and is your's is our's"

    islamic law is clear here and what has happened to those women is murder clear and simple and the men who are using this chaos in iraq to violently enforce one small aspect of shariah are doing shariah law and islam as a whole a bad name.

    however, the journalist who wrote this no doubt knew all this if they are any good at their job and still used this terrible news to attack islamic law and the idea of ruling by shariah in a biased manner.

    ps...
    yes i tend to write to newspapers a lot, it is easier than people think. google "Daw'ud Abdullah Mannion"
    best to avoid 'mr grumpy' though as i think he wants to kill me, still this is the internet and bloggers say all sorts of weird stuff.

    peace be upon those who follow righteous guidence,

    Daw'ud
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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    May Allah lead us to the good deeds

    Hasbuna Allah wanma alwakeel
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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    format_quote Originally Posted by Dawud_uk View Post
    i thought this article was typical biased reporting, if someone in britain beats up a robber or locks a shop lifter up in his garage then does that mean british law is wrong?
    So you're comparing the murder of Iraqi women with the beating up of British shop lifters? Actually I do not think that beating robbers is ever wrong, but shooting women is rarely right. What do you think?

    no of-course not, so why when some vigilante does something stupid do the british and the rest of the west use it to slander shariah?
    Hear the sound of Muslims condemning this? No doubt when I point it out they will, but up to now? What are you doing? Not condemning it. The fact that it is met with such indifference - no mass protests for instance - makes it clear that the Muslim community has a problem.

    here is my letter i wrote to the independent in protest...

    Dear Editor,

    Your Thursday front-page article about the unjust killings of women in Iraq for not covering themselves to the Islamic standard will no doubt cause alarm for all right thinking people – Muslim or non-Muslim.
    No doubt. But does it in you?

    But the truth is the vast majority of Muslim women worldwide who cover themselves do so out of a modesty born from a sincere appreciation of faith not pressure from families or society and this is a fact that perhaps many liberals such as the writers for your newspaper are unable to understand.
    What does the fact that some Muslim women cover themselves voluntarily have to do with the fact that too many Muslim women are being murdered in Iraq and elsewhere? This "truth" seems not only utterly irrelevant to me but in fact a deliberate distraction from the issue at hand. Why did you feel the need to make this point?

    It is also a fact that many liberals cannot comprehend is why out of the thousands of Western Converts to Islam each year, at least two thirds of them are women. So why are Western Women joining a faith that is so ‘oppressive’ towards their gender?
    Probably because they fall in love. And it has to be said that they do not live in a country that enforces Islamic law. But again, the fact that a few women convert every year has what to do with the fact that Iraqi women are being murdered? Why did you feel the need to make this point?

    Up and down the UK on Saturday 17th of June many Mosques are opening their doors to non-Muslims to come and look around and ask questions from 12.00pm – 6.00pm. My own local Mosque, Masjid Umar on Barnsley Road in Sheffield is one of the Mosques taking part in this National event organised by UK Islamic Mission.
    That is nice. What is the relevance?

    Your papers exploitation of such dreadful killings to attack Shariah law and the idea of Hijab itself as oppression is also unjust act by your reporter Terri Judd. It is to be hoped some of your reporters and readers will take this opportunity of National Mosque Open Day to educate themselves about the true teachings of Islam and not resort to such awful stereotypes that have progressed little since the 1980’s.
    If it was an attack on Sharia and Hijab that might be true. But it looked like an attack on the murder of women to me. Why do you think otherwise?
    Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connait pas. - Blaise Pascal
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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    format_quote Originally Posted by Dawud_uk View Post
    islamic law is clear here and what has happened to those women is murder clear and simple and the men who are using this chaos in iraq to violently enforce one small aspect of shariah are doing shariah law and islam as a whole a bad name.
    Why are you attacking a journalist for saying it then?

    however, the journalist who wrote this no doubt knew all this if they are any good at their job and still used this terrible news to attack islamic law and the idea of ruling by shariah in a biased manner.
    Where in the article is an attack on 1. Sharia, 2. Islamic law, or 3. Hajib? I might have missed it but it does not seem to be doing that to me. So what is your objection to the article really based on?

    peace be upon those who follow righteous guidence
    Yes. That says something too.
    Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connait pas. - Blaise Pascal
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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Hear the sound of Muslims condemning this? No doubt when I point it out they will, but up to now? What are you doing? Not condemning it. The fact that it is met with such indifference - no mass protests for instance - makes it clear that the Muslim community has a problem.
    This is an interesting point.
    Do people know of any evidence (on small or large scale), where Muslim people protest against or condemn such actions?
    There have got to be some!

    peace.
    Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Peace
    glocandle ani 1 - Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]

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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    format_quote Originally Posted by Dawud_uk View Post
    peace glo,

    i was trying to turn a negative to a postive and try to use the news item to hopefully God willing get some of the biased newspaper journalists to actually step into their local mosque on the 17th and find out just a little more what islam actually is all about.
    I know what you were trying to do, Daw'ud, and I didn't mean to disregard your letter.

    It's just that the treatment these women are receiving really got under my skin. Women's rights are very close to my heart!
    yes i tend to write to newspapers a lot, it is easier than people think. google "Daw'ud ...]
    I see what you mean. They know you at the Independent, don't they???

    I admire the approach you take to influencing the public view of Islam.

    peace
    Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Peace
    glocandle ani 1 - Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]

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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Mr. Mannion,

    You seem happy when non-Muslim women convert to Islam. How do you feel when you hear of Muslim women converting to, say, Christianity...or Buddhism...or Atheism(improbable as that may seem)? Would that be ok with you?
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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    format_quote Originally Posted by catmando
    You seem happy when non-Muslim women convert to Islam. How do you feel when you hear of Muslim women converting to, say, Christianity...or Buddhism...or Atheism(improbable as that may seem)? Would that be ok with you?
    Yeah, like that happens lol....
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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    format_quote Originally Posted by catmando View Post
    Mr. Mannion,

    You seem happy when non-Muslim women convert to Islam. How do you feel when you hear of Muslim women converting to, say, Christianity...or Buddhism...or Atheism(improbable as that may seem)? Would that be ok with you?

    peace be upon those who follow righteous guidence,

    heigou,
    you are someone i see on here causing endless argument and dissention with your hectoring ways, hence i will treat your posts as hostile. if i get time i'll answer some of your points but as i dont right now you go to the back of the que whilst i talk to some nice polite non-muslims.

    catmando,
    you are right it is very unlikely but i am not denying it happens very occassionally but that is an entirely different thread to the one here. if you want to start such a thread then i would happily answer your question in more detail but briefly...
    if someone changes their religion, MAN OR WOMAN and becomes a kaffir voluntarily without being forced into it (when it wouldnt be valid anyway) then they are offered the chance several times to repent and come back to islam. knowledgeable people should be sent to them to talk them out of their mistakes.
    if none of this works they are killed, this is very clear in islam, the apostate is killed.

    peace be upon those who follow righteous guidence,
    Daw'ud
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    Re: Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    format_quote Originally Posted by Dawud_uk View Post
    peace be upon those who follow righteous guidence,
    Peace on all mankind, Muslim or not.

    heigou,
    you are someone i see on here causing endless argument and dissention with your hectoring ways, hence i will treat your posts as hostile. if i get time i'll answer some of your points but as i dont right now you go to the back of the que whilst i talk to some nice polite non-muslims.
    By all means. I am feeling more than a little hostile right now. The Canadian bombing plot is a step too far as far as I am concerned.

    I shan't hold my breath.
    Iraqi women's battle is just beginning

    Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connait pas. - Blaise Pascal
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