Thursday, July 21, 2005

Reading Lolita In Basra

Two weeks ago, Iraqi blogger, Vahal Abdulrahman, wrote in his poetic post "Reading Lolita in Baghdad":

Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran"left a profound impact on me. It is a beautifully written book that takes the reader inside the Islamic Republic of Iran from the perspective of its main victims, women. But these women are not just any women, they are literary critics in a land where western literature is banned, where women are forced to appear in public veiled from head to toe.


Last summer, I read "Reading Lolita in Tehran."Like Vahal, I wished we would never live to hear of secret women's book clubs in Iraq.

A day or two later, I read in an article about the screening of female students before being allowed onto the premises of the University of Basra. The female students complained about Al-Sadr militia and others who command those students to return home claiming their makeup or outfits are not conservative enough. Reading that report brought back my worries while reading Azar Nafisi's book.

Last week, The Telegraph published an article on more crimes committed against women in Basra (Via Belmont Club):

The bodies of young women began to appear in Basra six weeks ago.

First there was a group of three, then two, and last week the corpses of six were found, each victim riddled by gunshots and left on the street to die in pools of blood.

The Iraqi police say they have no strong leads. But it is an open secret in the port city why they died.

They worked as prostitutes and their killers are widely believed to be one of the city's armed militias. In recent months they have become increasingly violent in their campaign to enforce a strict interpretation of the social code of Islam.

The district where the latest victims were discovered is one of the city's poorest. Sewage runs beside the pavement and through the holes in the walls of buildings can be seen thin mattresses and battered pots and pans.

No one wanted to talk about the details of the murders. "I do not want to be killed," one man said.


These two pieces of news bring many questions to my mind.

Who's responsible for these crimes? The militias who control the city? The British troops who are giving a blind eye to what's happening to Basrawi women? The Iraqi government in Baghdad that has forgotten about this city? Or could it be the Basrawi people themselves who let these crimes continue because they're afraid for their lives?

What's happening in Basra reminds me of movies like Gangs of New York and Road to Perdition. I wonder if Hollywood will ever make a movie titled gangs of Al-Sadr.

What gives me some hope is the e-mail I received from my friend in Basra. In the middle of all these troubles, she wants to continue her post-graduate studies at any American university that offers online courses for overseas students.

If you ever wondered why Basrawis are so special to my heart, then know it's because of Basrawi women, like my friend, who learned to never give up on their dreams.

UPDATE 07/22/2005
The Associated Press reported:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gunmen fired on a car carrying a newlywed couple and their families on Friday, killing the bride and her mother and wounding the groom. They were among at least 12 people killed in violence nationwide.
The attack on the newlyweds came after Iraqi army Capt. Wissam Abdul-Wahab and his bride, Sally, were picked up Friday by their families after spending their wedding night at a hotel in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood. The bride and her mother were killed, according to police and medical officials.

My poor Sally, she was very happy yesterday," sobbed her mother-in-law, Latifah Mohammed, too distraught to tell her son his bride was dead.

Insurgents frequently target Iraqi forces seen as collaborating with the U.S. efforts in the country.


How low could those criminals go? Killing a bride?

And there are people who still call those scumbags a "legitimate resistance" and find excuses for their crimes. Like Ahmed said in his blog, "Your silence is killing me." It's not only killing me. It's killing everyone of us who wants to see an end to those crimes. Your silence is giving the terrorists the green light to continue their Satanic acts. Congratulations for siding with the devil.

Reading Lolita in Tehran

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