I don’t know if news is just slow to spread in Iraq. But unless this story is older than I think it is, it looks like gay Iraqis still face religious death squads, despite earlier news that Sistani lifted the fatwa against gay men (not lesbians, though) last week.
THE death threat was delivered to Karazan’s father early in the morning by a masked man wearing a police uniform.
The scribbled note was brief. Karazan had to die because he was gay. In the new Baghdad, his sexuality warranted execution by the religious militias.
The father was told that if he did not hand his son over, other family members would be killed.
What scares the city’s residents is how the fanatics’ list of enemies is growing. It includes girls who refuse to cover their hair, boys who wear theirs too long, booksellers, liberal professors and prostitutes. Three shops known to sell alcohol were bombed yesterday in the Karrada shopping district.
In this atmosphere of intolerance and intimidation, the militias have made no secret of their hatred of homosexuals.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given the general instability and disorganization in the country — if the constant reports of bombings and death are any indication — that either word of Sistani’s reprieve hasn’t reached all of the religious militias or that any number of them probably operate independent of Sistani or have allegiances to other clerics who haven’t issued reprieves of their own.
Maybe that’s just what happens when people are governed by religion. Or it might just be that its not longer safe to be gay or lesbian in Iraq today; at least no safer than it is to be a woman, a child, poor, or any combination of the three. I haven’t uncovered specific information yet about how gays fared under Saddam, but the general sense I get is that at least they weren’t hunted by death squads, and one man in the article suggests that they didn’t have it this bad under Saddam.
“These people are taking Iraq back to the Dark Ages,” added Mr [Ali] Hili, 33.
His nightclub, in the basement of the Palestine Hotel, was one of the best-known in the city. Restaurants and cafés along Abu Nuwas street were also popular haunts for gays.
His organisation, Iraqi LGBT, runs safe houses in the capital and an underground network to help people to leave the country.
He said: “We could never envisage this happening when Saddam was overthrown. I had no love for the former President, but his regime never persecuted the gay community.”
It’s probably debatable, since Saddam probably did persecute at least some gay people — if not the whole community, as a matter of policy — and I doubt many Americans are going to care if a few queers get killed in Iraq. But it’s worth considering, in order to ask just how many Iraqis have benefited from our invasion and occupation of their country and in what way.
If you ask me, you can tell a lot about a country, a society, or a government by looking at how well the weakest of its citizens (those with the least protections, social privileges, and/or resources) fare. And from what I can see, it doesn’t look like we’ve done any favors for those Iraqi’s who fit into that category any favors thus far. In fact, we may have removed what little security and stability they did have before. And it doesn’t look like we’re gonna be able to restore that anytime soon.