Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Talibanization of Our Basra

Reza / National Geographic

Profane in the eyes of radical mullahs, a woman's face on a billboard has been "veiled" in black paint in Multan, the ancient city in Punjab that is now a center for fundamentalist mosques and madrassas. Once confined to the fiercely conservative northwest, "talibanization" is spreading across Pakistan, pushed by a small but vocal minority.

In its September 2007 issue, National Geographic magazine published an lengthy article about the war between moderate and radical Pakistanis. The above photo caught my attention from the photo essay published with the article because of the similarities between Pakistan and parts of Iraq that are close to my heart.

Sam Dagher / © The C.S. Monitor

A billboard in central Basra, advertises a cellular telephone service. The woman's face has been covered in black paint, a message to people in the city to follow a strict Islamic code.

We live in small world, don't we? Pakistan, Basra, Iran. It's all the same these days. This is modern day Basra. What modern day? This is the stone age - 21st century style. And who is running the show in Basra these days? According to The Christian Science Monitor the following lovely radical parties:

Sadrists and Mahdi Army.

The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.
The Badr Organization.
The Shaheed Al-Mihrab Organization.
The Sayed Al-Shuhada Movement.
The Hizbullah Movement in Iraq.

All five parties were previously based in Iran and have strong ties to Tehran. The Council and its affiliates hold 21 of the 40 seats in the provincial council. Badr still controls several police units, including customs.

The Pentacle House.
The Islamic Fadhila (Virtue) Party.
Thaar Allah (God’s Revenge) Party.
Hizbullah al-Iraq.
Mahmoud al-Hassani al-Sarkhi.

During the last 4 years, Iran achieved in Basra what its army couldn't achieve in eight years of war with Iraq. It couldn't get better for Iran.

Some people think Basrawis have selective memory when they talk about the good old days of Basra. I won't repeat what I've written many times on this blog. I'll let Baghdad Treasure tell you about THAT Basra and THIS Basra.

Related Links:
Dan Dagher - The Christian Science Monitor:
'Shiite Taliban' rises as British depart Basra.
In the 'Venice of the East,' a history of diversity.
Basra oil fuels fight to control Iraq's economic might.
As British troops exit Basra, Shiites vie to fill power vacuum.

Treasure of Baghdad:
After Diyala, Basra Calls for Help.

The National Geographic Magazine:
Struggle for the Soul of Pakistan.

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