It’s as I suspected. Yesterday I posted an update on the situation with religious anti-gay death squads in Iraq, after seeing an article describing ongoing attacks despite reports that Iraqi cleric Ali al-Sistani had lifted the fatwa against gay men (though not lesbians) and deleted it from his website.
I suspected that the fatwa might still be in effect, despite previous reports, and it looks like I was right. David Ireland, who’s been reporting the story from the start, reports that Sistani has retreated on the anti-gay fatwa.
The fatwa itself, however, remains in force, and has not been publicly repudiated by the grand ayatollah, who is the supreme religious authority for Iraq’s Shia Muslims.
… While welcome, the removal of the murderous fatwa from Sistani’s Web site is unlikely to affect the situation on the ground in Iraq, where death squads of the Badr Corps—now operating in police uniforms with the authorization of the Iraqi Interior Ministry—continue their lethal campaign of terror against gay people. Absent any public repudiation by Sistani of his fatwa and its formal withdrawal, the wave of organized intimidation, violence, and murder directed at Iraqi gays is likely to persist unabated.
… “We welcome the decision to remove the most murderously homophobic part of Sistani’s fatwa from his Web site,” gay Iraqi refugee Ali Hili, coordinator of Iraqi LGBT – UK, said from London. Ali is also Middle East Affairs spokesman for the British LGBT rights movement, OutRage!, which works closely with the Iraqi gay group.
But, Hili, said, “This decision does not go far enough. The fatwa has been removed from Sistani’s Web site only. It has not been revoked. We want the entire fatwa withdrawn, including the hateful denunciation calling for the punishment of lesbians. We urge Sistani to apologize and revoke, in public, his fatwa calling for the murder of homosexuals, and to issue a new fatwa condemning all vigilante violence, including vigilante attacks on gay and lesbian people. We believe that Sistani’s fatwa has encouraged and sanctioned the current wave of execution-style assassinations of lesbians and gay men. He owes gay Iraqis an apology. He owes all Iraqis an apology for setting straight Iraqis against gay Iraqis.”
When the histories of our misadventure in Iraq are written, I hope Ireland or someone else close to the story will document what has happened to the Iraqi gay community in the aftermath of the invasion, and during the occupation.
I don’t expect most Americans to care, and perhaps not many people in the world. But it’s an atrocity committed on our watch, and one that no one who has the power and resource to do the job is doing anything to stop. Iraqi gays & lesbians are left on their on to be hunted by religious death squads, with no help except fro those who can do little more than report their stories and spread news of what’s happening.
So, I hope someone records all of this, in of only so that if someone has the conscience to examine it later they can.