Sunday :: Feb 6, 2005

As The Shiites Prepare To Exercise Their Clout, Women Will Suffer In George W. Bush's Iraq

by Steve

As the votes are counted in Iraq, it appears the Shiites will not only gain power, but will also insist on basing some or much of the new Iraqi constitution upon the Koran. A story in today’s NYT indicates that the PNAC cabal and George W. Bush are about to fail in their obsession of forcing western capitalist democracy upon Iraq. Worse yet it appears that Bush’s zeal and naiveté is running smack into Colin Powell’s pottery barn rule when you consider that for all the talk about liberating the Iraqis and bringing them democracy, in the end Bush will have managed to make everyday Iraqi life worse for one key segment of the population: women. And Bush, as a toppler of regimes and a creator of the vacuum that followed, will be singularly responsible for the oppression that befalls Iraqi women as a result of his empire building.

With religious Shiite parties poised to take power in the new constitutional assembly, leading Shiite clerics are pushing for Islam to be recognized as the guiding principle of the new constitution.
At the very least, the clerics say, the constitution should ensure that legal measures overseeing personal matters like marriage, divorce and family inheritance fall under Shariah, or Koranic law. For example, daughters would receive half the inheritances of sons under that law.
The leading Shiite clerics say they have no intention of taking executive office and following the Iranian model of wilayat al-faqih, or direct governance by religious scholars. But the clerics also say the Shiite politicians ultimately answer to them, and that the top religious leaders, collectively known as the marjaiya, will shape the constitution through the politicians.

Some effects are already being felt locally. In Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq, where one of Ayatollah Sistani's closest aides has enormous influence, Shiite religious parties have been transforming the city into an Islamic fief since the toppling of Mr. Hussein. Militias have driven alcohol sellers off the streets. Women are harassed if they walk the streets in anything less than head-to-toe black. Conservative judges are invoking Shariah in some courts.

The clerics generally agree that the constitution must ensure that no laws passed by the state contradict a basic understanding of Shariah as laid out in the Koran. Women should not be treated as the equals of men in matters of marriage, divorce and family inheritance, they say. Nor should men be prevented from having multiple wives, they add.
"Sistani and the other grand ayatollahs will press for as much Shariah - or Islamic law - as possible in Iraqi law," said Juan Cole, a history professor and specialist in Shiite Islam at the University of Michigan. "They can afford to be patient if they can't push through everything now."
One tenet of Shariah mandates that in dividing family property, male children get twice as much as female children.

"We don't want to see equality between men and women because according to Islamic law, men should have double of women," said Muhammad Kuraidy, a spokesman for Ayatollah Yacoubi. "This is written in the Koran and according to God."

The Americans have actively pushed for equality for women. In the elections last Sunday, many women voted, and the clerics have not publicly objected to that right, nor have they criticized a clause in the transitional law that sets quotas for women in the national assembly.

But Sheik Khalifa, Ayatollah Yacoubi's senior aide, said the ayatollah did not want the constitution to be linked to the transitional law whose writing was overseen by the Americans.

"There was no clear point about Islam," he said. "It just said that Islam should be respected. But we want a legal article that states frankly that no laws should violate Islamic law.

As things unfold in Iraq over the coming year, it will become clear that in the new Iraq created by George W. Bush, women will be second-class citizens and worse off in a new Islamic semi-theocracy. It will be entertaining to hear our freeper friends continue to tout the liberation of Iraq while Iraqi men oppress women, which is of course contrary to what the Bill Kristol PNAC types said would happen when we “liberated” these peoples of the Islamic world.

I suspect that the holiday dinner table at the Bush house this Thanksgiving will be quite interesting as well, with Stepford Laura and Mommy Babs expressing their dismay at how Georgie’s gambit has made women worse off than before.

Or does the plight of women in our "liberated areas" become a secondary concern to Bush and cabal when the interests of Corporate America are paramount?

Steve :: 11:31 AM :: Comments (16) :: Digg It!