“Some clerics and politicians are forcing religion into our lives.” And note this: “They’re using the new constitution to impose Islamic law and reduce women’s rights.”
Sharia Alert: “Extremists force women to hide under head scarves,” by James Palmer in the Washington Times (thanks to Sr. Soph):
BAGHDAD — For two years, Faiza Abdal-Majeed has carried a head scarf in her purse for emergencies.
For a woman in the Iraqi capital four years after the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein, these emergencies can include passing unlawful checkpoints manned by armed militiamen, impromptu forays through neighborhoods controlled by religious zealots and taxi drivers who refuse her fare unless she covers her hair.
In addition, Mrs. Abdal-Majeed’s job with Iraq’s women’s affairs ministry frequently brings her into contact with government officials, police officers and Muslim clergymen who insist that she cover up before they speak with her.
“Some clerics and politicians are forcing religion into our lives,” said Mrs. Abdal-Majeed, 45. “We’re being pushed back 1,000 years in time.”
Baghdad once was considered a secular, cosmopolitan metropolis where Islamic customs seldom collided with women’s fashion. Today, however, religious ideology has strengthened its grip and forced half the population to submit to traditional Islamic dress.
“The government differs on all issues except women’s rights,” said Yanar Mohammed, the president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. “They’re using the new constitution to impose Islamic law and reduce women’s rights.”
Bushra Yousef, 51, is the managing editor of an Iraqi women’s magazine who fled from Baghdad to Damascus in December after threats on her life. She said women in the Syrian capital are given more autonomy in dress than their Iraqi counterparts.
“Syrian women have freedom to choose what they wear,” Mrs. Yousef said by telephone from Damascus. “Women in Iraq are often forced to wear Islamic uniform, even Christian women.”
Ragadaa Manuale, a 36-year-old Christian, confirmed that view.
“Sometimes the men harass me when I go to pick up my daughter from school,” said Mrs. Manuale, a secretary who lives in central Baghdad and is part of Iraq’s tiny Christian population. “I just wear [a head scarf] for security.”