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Old 02-03-2004, 09:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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Oops, did we just ruin your life indefinetley?

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/20...18574968764277

This is a blog entry. The writer of this blog is an intelligent, Iraqi woman. The blog is all about her experiences before the war, during it, and now the aftermath.
This is an entry that details our biggest failure in deciding to go to war with Iraq. Say what you will about Saddam, and he does deserve it. But under him, Islamic law was either never allowed to see the light of day or seldom seen. Saddam gave women equal rights, gave other religions like the 4% catholic population equal rights and so on. His judicial system was mirrored off of the western model. That is all ending now.

Quote:
On Wednesday our darling Iraqi Puppet Council decided that secular Iraqi family law would no longer be secular- it is now going to be according to Islamic Shari'a. Shari'a is Islamic law, whether from the Quran or quotes of the Prophet or interpretations of modern Islamic law by clerics and people who have dedicated their lives to studying Islam.

The news has barely been covered by Western or even Arab media and Iraqi media certainly aren't covering it. It is too much to ask of Al-Iraqiya to debate or cover a topic like this one- it would obviously conflict with the Egyptian soap operas and songs. This latest decision is going to be catastrophic for females- we're going backwards.

Don't get me wrong- pure Islamic law according to the Quran and the Prophet gives women certain unalterable, nonnegotiable rights. The problem arises when certain clerics decide to do their own interpretations of these laws (and just about *anyone* can make themselves a cleric these days). The bigger problem is that Shari'a may be drastically different from one cleric to another. There are actually fundamental differences in Shari'a between the different Islamic factions or 'methahib'. Even in the same methahib, there are dozens of different clerics who may have opposing opinions. This is going to mean more chaos than we already have to deal with. We've come to expect chaos in the streets… but chaos in the courts and judicial system too?!

This is completely unfair to women specifically. Under the Iraqi constitution, men and women are equal. Under our past secular family law (which has been in practice since the '50s) women had unalterable divorce, marriage, inheritance, custody, and alimony rights. All of this is going to change.

I'll give an example of what this will mean. One infamous practice brought to Iraq by Iranian clerics was the 'zawaj muta'a', which when translated by the clerics means 'temporary marriage'. The actual translation is 'pleasure marriage'- which is exactly what it is. It works like this: a consenting man and woman go to a cleric who approves of temporary marriage and they agree upon a period of time during which the marriage will last. The man pays the woman a 'mahar' or dowry and during the duration of the marriage (which can be anything from an hour, to a week, a month, etc.) the man has full marital rights. Basically, it's a form of prostitution that often results in illegitimate children and a spread of STDs.

Sunni clerics consider it a sin and many Shi'a clerics also frown upon it… but there are the ones who will tell you it's 'halal' and Shari'a, etc. The same people who approve it or practice it would, of course, rather see their daughters or sisters dead before they allow *them* to practice it- but that's beyond the point.

Anyway, secular Iraqi family law considers it a form of prostitution and doesn't consider a 'pleasure marriage' a legitimate marriage. In other words, the woman wouldn't have any legal rights and if she finds herself pregnant- the child, legally, wouldn't have a father.

So what happens if a married man decides to arrange a pleasure marriage on the side? In the past, his legitimate wife could haul him off to court, and ask for a divorce because the man would be committing adultery under Iraqi family law. That won't be the case now. Under certain clerics, a pleasure marriage will be considered legal and the woman won't have a case for divorce. Under other clerics, he'll be committing adultery- so who gets to judge? The cleric she chooses, or the cleric he chooses?

Another example is in marriage itself. By tribal law and Shari'a, a woman, no matter how old, would have to have her family's consent to marry a man. By Iraqi law, as long as the woman is over 18, she doesn't need her family's consent. She can marry in a court, legally, without her parents. It rarely happened in Iraq, but it *was* possible.

According to Iraqi secular law, a woman has grounds to divorce her husband if he beats her. According to Shari'a, it would be much more difficult to prove abuse.
[Superbelts note: Two MEN have to testify that the man beat his wife. Testimony of women under Sharia is not legally significant. Same problem with rape. Two men have to actually witness it. Otherwise the woman gets stoned for adultery.]

Other questions pose themselves- Shari'a doesn’t outlaw the marriage of minors (on condition they've hit puberty). Iraqi secular law won't allow minors to marry until the age of at least 16 (I think) for women and the age of 18 for men.

By Iraqi civil law, parents are required to send their children to complete at least primary school. According to Shari'a, a father can make his son or daughter quit school and either work or remain at home. So what happens when and if he decides to do that? Does Shari'a apply or does civil law apply?

There are hundreds of other examples that I can think of and that make me feel outrage. I practice Islam, but do I want an Islamic government? No. I feel that because we have so many different methahib and religions, any religious government is bound to oppress some faction of society. It's already happening in the south where fundamentalist Shi'a are attacking Christian families and shops.

Juan Cole had something to say about the subject and he referred to an article written in Financial Times appropriately titled, "Iraqi plan for Sharia law 'a sop to clerics', say women". Unfortunately, the writers of the article apparently have no background on secular Iraqi law beyond what the GC members have told them. The fundamentalist GC members claim that civil Iraqi law forced people to go against their doctrine, which isn't true because a large part of civil law was based on Shari'a or the parts of Shari'a that were agreed upon by all the differing Islamic factions (like the right to divorce) and taking into consideration the different religious groups in Iraq.

Women are outraged… this is going to open new doors for repression in the most advanced country on women's rights in the Arab world! Men are also against this (although they certainly have the upper-hand in the situation) because it's going to mean more confusion and conflict all around.

What happens when all the clerics agree that a hijab isn't 'preferred' but necessary? According to this new change in the 'ahwal shakhsiya' laws or 'personal circumstances' laws, all women will have to cover their heads and according to Shari'a, if a woman's husband decides that she can't continue her education or work, she'll have to remain a house-wife.

Please don't misunderstand- any oppression to women isn't a reflection on Islam. It's a reflection on certain narrow minds, ignorance and the politicization of religion. Islam is a progressive religion and no religion is clearer on the rights of women- it came during a time when women had no rights at all.

During the sanctions and all the instability, we used to hear fantastic stories about certain Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar, to name a few. We heard about their luxurious lifestyles- the high monthly wages, the elegant cars, sprawling homes and malls… and while I always wanted to visit, I never once remember yearning to live there or even feeling envy. When I analyzed my feelings, it always led back to the fact that I cherished the rights I had as an Iraqi Muslim woman. During the hard times, it was always a comfort that I could drive, learn, work for equal pay, dress the way I wanted and practice Islam according to my values and beliefs, without worrying whether I was too devout or not devout enough.

I usually ignore the emails I receive telling me to 'embrace' my new-found freedom and be happy that the circumstances of all Iraqi women are going to 'improve drastically' from what we had before. They quote Bush (which in itself speaks volumes) saying things about how repressed the Iraqi women were and how, now, they are going to be able to live free lives.

The people who write those emails often lob Iraq together with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan and I shake my head at their ignorance but think to myself, "Well, they really need to believe their country has the best of intentions- I won't burst their bubble." But I'm telling everyone now- if I get any more emails about how free and liberated the Iraqi women are *now* thanks to America, they can expect a very nasty answer.
We really have just totally fucked over every woman who lives under the rule of Iraq. We went in thinking, "ooh we liberate them and everything is hunkey dorey". Did anyone in the administration have any idea what was really going to happen once we turn power over to the majority. Things are going to deteriorate steadily until Iraq is actually in a more backwards state than Iran is now. Education in the country will suffer, standard of living and human rights in Iraq which were once the best of the entire Middle East are now going to vanish.
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Old 02-03-2004, 09:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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well, it's not just iraq. the new afghani constitution is also based on the sharia (islamic) law.

iraq was actually secular before the war, and now it has turned into another islamic state.

where is the freedom of religion ?
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Old 02-03-2004, 09:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Democracy means rule by the majority

...even if the majority is Islamic. If the actual majority of the country wants to be ruled by religious fanatics, let them. The UN's place in politics is not to tell them what KIND of government to have, but to make sure human rights are observed (these are universal) and that voting is fair and actually imposes the will of the People on the State.
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Old 02-03-2004, 09:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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Location: Grantville, Pa
Who has democracy? Rule of the majority is bad, it allows the majority to run over the minority/weak and do whatever they want. In this case it's non muslims and women. And, once Sharia is implemented Iraq will no longer have democracy at all as well. They will have a religious Theocracy and then no one will have a voice in the government.
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Old 02-03-2004, 09:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Democracy means rule by the majority

Quote:
Originally posted by Nevus
...even if the majority is Islamic. If the actual majority of the country wants to be ruled by religious fanatics, let them. The UN's place in politics is not to tell them what KIND of government to have, but to make sure human rights are observed (these are universal) and that voting is fair and actually imposes the will of the People on the State.
then what about minority rights?

we have the bill of rights in place to protect the minority.
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Old 02-03-2004, 10:02 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Ironic, ain't it? We knock over a westernized dictator and get an islamic government in its place. So much for democracy. (Yeah, stay the course, blah blah blah, but Bush plans to be out in time for the elections).
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Old 02-03-2004, 10:30 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I get a sense that the overwhelming trend in this thread is to simply state your absolute conviction. Many of you appear so thoroughy convinced in your ability to analyze complex events and processes and to predict the future that it is noteworthy in itself. Is it your desire to preach only to those already in full agreement with your biases?
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Old 02-03-2004, 10:43 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by ARTelevision
Many of you appear so thoroughy convinced in your ability to analyze complex events and processes and to predict the future that it is noteworthy in itself.
Well, we (dont know if I'm included in the "many", but I assume i am ) are ready to hear your side.
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Old 02-03-2004, 10:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
follower of the child's crusade?
 
An Islamic Iraq is more dangerous to America than a Baarthist one, and this is the choice, these are the two dominant factions, and they must work with one or the other.
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Old 02-03-2004, 11:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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Location: Grantville, Pa
No, I don't want to preach to the choir. I want to show people the result of our actions. I am fully aware that there was brutality before we invaded. But I feel that we are just trading on brutal dictator for another.

I'd also like to hear your interpretation of what this Iraqi woman is saying and what you think the future holds for Iraq.
Tell me, ART, Do you think Sharia is going to be stopped (It appears Bremer will sign the new resolution from the governing council, thus implementing religious law.)
What do you think will be the level of freedom and human rights of women in Iraq over the next 5 - 10 years? I think it will be something on the level of what Iran is now. And that is pretty close to the Taliban level of repression.

I think we went in unprepared for the real situation we were faced with in Iraq. I have had this opinion of the situation of what will happen to the average persons rights in Iraq since before the war started. I feel now that my predictions are becoming the truth.
I really don't think there is any kind of real solution to be had anyway. There really are only two choices. Allow Saddam or someone else to lead a secular Baathist state, or allow democracy, which will devolve into Theocracy.

Last edited by Superbelt; 02-03-2004 at 11:10 AM..
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Old 02-03-2004, 11:49 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I hope we have the national will to stick around long enough in Iraq to help make it a secular society, but I'm not sure we will.

I will note that as to the "dictator for a dictator" sentiment, you have to be alive before your rights can be oppressed. Iraq is definitely better off.
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Old 02-03-2004, 11:58 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks for the opening...

My position in direct response to the thread starter is that I read this statement as pivotal:

"Don't get me wrong- pure Islamic law according to the Quran and the Prophet gives women certain unalterable, nonnegotiable rights. The problem arises when certain clerics decide to do their own interpretations of these laws ..."

Power hungry and maniacal clerics are the types of bully that a Constitution and a reformed secular law can disempower. I see the situation in Afghanistan, for example, as much improved over Taliban rule. I have a reasonable expectation the same will hold true in Iraq.

I would also state that the effort to remove the Hussein regime was essentially a global security matter. "Liberating" the Iraqi people is a side effect, of which - as I stated - I have a reasonable expectation.

Rather than state a clear prediction of the future, I prefer to speak in terms of reasonable expectations.

Thanks.
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Old 02-03-2004, 12:29 PM   #13 (permalink)
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1. One reason why invading Iraq is (somewhat) ok:

The president has a moral obligation to take action when the United States is threatened. All the intelligence he got, combined with his own prejudices and convictions, told him that Iraq would one day threaten America. There are a finite number of sources of WMD (for now, NBC: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical). Iraq is not only a source, but is also ruled by a belligerent dictator with a grudge against America. 9/11 not only made the threat Iraq posed more clear, but it also made war with Iraq politically possible. Iraq wasn't a threat now, but there was a window of opportunity open to engage the threat aggressively. In the future, war might not be feasible, and the threat might be greater. In short, this is the situation we feared, and the main reason we went to war.

That's all fine and good, but it doesn't describe the entire thought process that went on, and it negects the fact that the CIA wouldn't classify Iraq as enough of a threat to justify invasion.

2. The Neoconservative foreign policy mindset in a nutshell:

The world is a dangerous place. Contrary to the prevailing ideas about foreign policy, American power is a force for good. Moreover, American power can (and should!) be used to shape world affairs for the better. If we invade Iraq, a few things will happen. One, we will be welcomed as liberators. Two, we will ultimately establish a friendly democratic government in the country. Three, democratic change in Iraq might ultimately spread throughout the middle east.

Neoconservatism, in contrast to the world-weary conservative mindset in America, is idealistic. It says we're the good guys, and we should go try to make the world a better place.

=====

If you read all of that, you'll understand why I think they went to war. I don't agree with what the neoconservatives say by and large (although on lots of nuts and bolts security issues they agree with what the Democrats are saying).

=====

Now, even if you reject the premise that our plans in Iraq have already gone horribly wrong, you have to concede that some aspects of our plans in Iraq (to date), have in fact gone horribly wrong. In this case, the disagreement is going to be on were these bad outcomes preventable. Sadly, I don't have much evidence to show that they were (not that it doesn't exist; I'm just too lazy to find it), but I do have a few more points to make.

1. Postwar planning was inadequate, or plans we had weren't followed.

http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/w...rplanning.html

Well, turns out I did find some evidence. Thanks google.

A key paragraph:

Quote:
The officials didn't develop any real postwar plans because they believed that Iraqis would welcome U.S. troops with open arms and Washington could install a favored Iraqi exile leader as the country's leader. The Pentagon civilians ignored CIA and State Department experts who disputed them, resisted White House pressure to back off from their favored exile leader and when their scenario collapsed amid increasing violence and disorder, they had no backup plan. [Knight Ridder, 7/11/03]
Moreover, the defense department produced plans that were not followed:

http://www.freep.com/news/nw/iraq12_20030712.htm

Quote:
Referring to the Chalabi scenario,(Richard) Perle said: "The Department of Defense proposed a plan that would have resulted in a substantial number of Iraqis available to assist in the immediate postwar period," Perle said. Had it been accepted, "we'd be in much better shape today," he said.
Now, if we blew all that stuff, how likely do you think it is that we'll play the poltical situation with equal agility?

Iraq is a divided country, and the only power on the ground that seems to have the power to get people mobilized for governmental reform are the clerics. When we called for caucuses, al-Sistani called for open elections, and we backed down. Now who's running the country again?
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