Traditional Islamic law forbids Christians to “display wine or pork” (cf. ‘Umdat as-Salik, o11.4(6)). Modern Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq are applying this to Christians who sell liquor in that country “” as part of larger initiatives to institute Islamic law there. This report is from AP, with thanks to Mary Beth Roderick and FreedomNowNews:
By most accounts, Sameer got off easy. The 42-year-old Christian liquor merchant received only a warning from the masked men who waved Kalashnikov rifles in his face and trashed his house in search of booze.
Others weren’t as lucky. Abid Slewa was shot in the head as he unlocked the front door of his liquor store. Bashir Elias, caught selling alcohol from the back of his car, was shot to death Christmas Eve on a street crowded with cheering onlookers.
Selling and drinking alcohol are legal in secular Iraq, even if many Iraqis avoid it for religious reasons. But as many as nine liquor-store owners, most of them Christians, have been killed in Basra since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April, according to merchants.
The U.S.-led coalition is concerned about the prospects for a tolerant and democratic society in a region dominated by increasingly powerful, and conservative, Shiite Muslim clerics.
British officials and Iraqi police say they have no firm figures on the numbers of people killed for selling alcohol, although they acknowledge that such killings have occurred. The officials and those who have been threatened say they believe that extremists from Basra’s resurgent Shiite majority are responsible.
“There is an element emerging in the Shiite community that does bear arms, that may be violent,” coalition spokesman Dominic D’Angelo said. “People are feeling threatened, and not without reason.”
Basra’s leading Shiite clerics deny involvement in the killings. But they acknowledge that their supporters have been warning people not to buy, drink or sell alcohol, which is banned under Islam.
“These liquor-shop owners, we talk to them and tell them that by selling alcohol they are injuring the whole community, bringing shame on all of us,” said Sheik Abu Salaam, the Basra representative of hard-line cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The influence of the top clerics is clear throughout the south, where posters bearing their images have replaced the once-omnipresent face of Saddam Hussein. With the new faces have come new fears. Besides the murders, dozens of liquor stores owned by Christians have been torched in recent months.
Nor is the terrorizing of liquor salesmen the only manifestation of resurgent Islamic law. Women are targeted for not wearing hijab (in light of the controversy in France, I wonder what became of their human right not to wear it), and even music has fallen into disfavor. After all, as I explained in Islam Unveiled, Islamic law still forbids music except in certain sharply defined circumstances.
Women in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, say they have been admonished by angry men for leaving home without a head scarf.
“If I leave my house with my head bare, people shout at me — they yell, ‘whore,’ ” said Aida Wahid, a 41-year-old Christian who owns a beauty salon.
Men tell of being stopped at intersections by gangs of Islamic activists and ordered to shut off music.