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January 25, 2010

Bomb explosions kill several people in central Baghdad

Bomb explosions kill several people in central Baghdad

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Iraq
Other stories from Iraq
  • 27 May 2015: Pro-government forces in Iraq launch operation to reclaim Ramadi from Islamic State
  • 19 April 2015: ISIS attacks United States consulate in Irbil, Iraq
  • 11 September 2014: John Kerry visits Iraq to build regional support against Islamic State
  • 6 September 2014: NATO leaders meet for two day summit in Wales
  • 24 August 2014: Islamic State capture Syrian airbase
…More articles here
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Three successive suicide car bombs in Baghdad, capital of Iraq killed at least 36 people, according to the Iraqi ministry. The incident occurred just before the country’s election, scheduled for March 7.

“There were three explosions, one near the Sheraton hotel the other near the Babylon hotel. The third we are checking into,” stated Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi.

The Ministry of Interior, Iraq stated that 36 people had died and 71 wounded. The three explosions occurred in rapid succession and sent smoke clouds in the sky. The first bomb exploded at 3.40 pm. Subsequently, fire engines arrived at the hotels and the police and soldiers together barred entry.

The next blast occurred at the Babylon hotel, which is often used by the government for meeting. Subsequently, another car bomb blasted the Hamra hotel compound, which hosts multiple news agencies.

According to witnesses, gunmen dressed in business suits had fired the checkpoint guards. During the firing, the building gate was opened. The van entered and was detonated. The explosion took place in a section where there were residential homes. The blast opened a gigantic crater, 12 feet wide and 6 feet deep only about 50 feet from the hotel. It completely destroyed the house just in the front of the building, where several bodies were discovered by rescue workers.

Um Riyadh, resident of the demolished house escaped with multiple injuries. “We lost the house. We lost everything. Why should I stay in Iraq? I’m going to leave. There’s no other solution.”, said the victim of the attack.

Although no group claimed responsibility, Saad Mutalabi, an adviser to the Iraqi Cabinet, blamed Al Qaeda. “It is a signature of Al Qaeda. I don’t think any of the political forces in Iraq would commit such an atrocity. It would not benefit any of them.”, said he.

The attack collided with the execution of Ali Hassan Majid, or “Chemical Ali”.

Earlier this month, Iraqi security forces, aided American intelligence agencies, had barred a massive attack on the city. They had seized several pounds of explosives and had brought the city to a temporary standstill.

The earlier attacks were allegedly executed by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, in alliance with Saddam Hussein’s Baath party. This has not been proved as of now.

Multiple bombings have killed several people in Iraq, in the past few months. Iraqi authorities fear that such attacks may have been carried out to disrupt the forthcoming the general elections of Iraq.



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January 23, 2008

Iraq removes Saddam references from flag

Iraq removes Saddam references from flag

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The new flag retains the red, white and black design.

The flag as redesigned in 2004.

The pre-2004 flag. Note the stars and the handwritten script.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The parliament of Iraq has approved a new flag for the country.

The new design no longer has the three green stars of the old flag, as they represented the ideals of the Baath party – “Unity, Freedom, Socialism”. Saddam Hussein was a leading member of the Baath party before his rule was ended in 2003.

The stars had upset many Kurds, who viewed them as a symbol of the régime that had killed thousands of their people. Massoud Barzani, President of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, banned the flag in his region in 2006.

“The new flag has no signs of Saddam’s regime and is a sign that change has been achieved in the country”, said Humam Hamoudi, a member of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.

The parliament voted 110-50 in favor of the change. They stated the new flag is only temporary, and that they will seek another redesign after a year has passed.

Parliament speaker Mahmud Mashhadani said the new flag will be flown from “constitutional and non-constitutional institutions”, as well as in Kurdish regions and Iraqi embassies.

Some, like Sadrist lawmaker Ahmed al-Masody, opposed the stars’ removal. “We would have announced that they don’t symbolize the Baath Party, but other principles, like justice”, al-Masody said. He refers to a different proposal that would have changed the script’s color to yellow and made the stars represent “peace, tolerance and justice”.

The flag previously went through changes in 2004, when the Arabic inscription “Allahu Akbar”, meaning “God is great”, was changed to a stylized Kufic script. The words on the old flag were alleged to be in Saddam Hussein’s handwriting.



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June 24, 2007

Ali Hassan al-Majid and two others sentenced to death by Iraqi court

Ali Hassan al-Majid and two others sentenced to death by Iraqi court

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Iraq
Other stories from Iraq
  • 27 May 2015: Pro-government forces in Iraq launch operation to reclaim Ramadi from Islamic State
  • 19 April 2015: ISIS attacks United States consulate in Irbil, Iraq
  • 11 September 2014: John Kerry visits Iraq to build regional support against Islamic State
  • 6 September 2014: NATO leaders meet for two day summit in Wales
  • 24 August 2014: Islamic State capture Syrian airbase
…More articles here
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Al-Majid at an investigative hearing in 2004

A cousin of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as “Chemical Ali”, was sentenced to death by hanging yesterday in Iraq by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal, along with two other officials from the former Baath Party. They were sentenced for their roles in the Al-Anfal Campaign, an anti-Kurdish campaign that resulted in the deaths of 180,000 Kurds.

It was during an attack against the Kurds that he received the nickname “Chemical Ali”, for the infamous Halabja poison gas attack, in which he ordered chemical weapons to be used against a town full of Kurdish civilians. The trial did not deal with this specific incident.

Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa told al-Majid that, according to a New York Times report, he had “been convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for ordering army and security services to use chemical weapons in a large-scale offensive that killed or maimed thousands.” Al-Majid was head of the Baath Party’s Northern Bureau Command at the time of the offences.

Al-Majid is reported to have said “Thanks be to God” as he left the court building, although he was trembling and silent when the verdict was read out. Reuters described him as “old-looking” during the sentencing.

Former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tal was also sentenced to death, for a large-scale attack on civilians, and for the usage of chemical weapons and illegal deportation against the Kurds. He insisted he was innocent as he left the courtroom, saying “I will not say anything new, but I will leave you to God. I’m innocent,”.

Former deputy director of operations for the Iraqi Armed Forces Hussein Rashid Mohammed was the third to be sentenced to death, for a number of allegations against the Kurds, including making anti-Kurdish military plans. He interrupted the judge during the reading of the verdict, saying that all the defendants were merely defending Iraq from Kurdish rebels. He is reported to have said “God bless our martyrs. Long live the brave Iraqi army. Long live Iraq. Long live the Baath party and long live Arab nations,”.

There were also two sentences of life imprisonment, one for former head of military intelligence’s eastern regional office Farhan Mutlaq Saleh and one for director of military intelligence under Saddam Hussein Sabir al-Douri. Charges were dropped against former governor of Mosul and head of the Northern Affairs Committee Taher Tawfiq al-Ani due to insufficient evidence. This move was expected as the prosecutor had earlier requested his release.

The sentences, unless overturned on appeal, will mark the end of the so-called Anfal trial, the second trial against regime officials since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The other trial was that of Hussein himself, which ended in his execution. Prior to his death, Hussein had also been a defendant in the Anfal trial.

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June 15, 2007

Khamenei: US and Israeli intel services responsible for Iraqi shrine bombing

Khamenei: US and Israeli intel services responsible for Iraqi shrine bombing

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest-ranking religious and political leader, blamed the intelligence services of the United States and Israel for the bombing of the Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq. According to him,

The perpetrators of this huge crime, whether they be the remnants of the Saddamist Baath regime or the reactionary elements of Salafist and Wahhabist groups…there is no doubt that the spy agencies of the occupiers and the Zionists were the brains behind the evil plot.

On 13th of June 2007, Iraqi insurgents blew up the two minerets of the Askari Mosque. The shrine is important because it contains the remains of the Imam Hadi and Imam Askari. The son of Imam Askari is Imam Mahdi. This is especially important in the context of Iran’s politics; according to Article 5 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Khamenei as an Islamic jurist is supposed to lead the “Ummah”. Some Muslims object to this. For instance, one Islamic cleric has said that Khamenei “does not have a divine authority or right to determine the fate of other peoples and countries,” referring to Muslims outside Iran.

Khamenei urged Sunni scholars to speak out against the sacrilege and Shia Muslims to remain calm. He believes that this bombing of part of a conspiracy to fuel sectarian tensions.

Earlier, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah in Lebanon also made the same charge and said, “Without doubt, the occupiers are providing the grounds for Salafi Takfiri groups and intelligence agencies to pillage the country.”

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November 5, 2006

Saddam Hussein sentenced to death for Dujail killings

Saddam Hussein sentenced to death for Dujail killings

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Sunday, November 5, 2006

The Iraq Special Tribunal has finally sentenced the deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to death by hanging over the killings of 148 villagers in the town of Dujail in 1982.

Hussein was charged with crimes against humanity for ordering the killings after a failed assassination attempt was made on him in the mostly Shiite town.

Of his seven co-defendants in the trial, the former head of the Iraqi secret police, Hussein’s half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti and the former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court, Awad Hamed al-Bandar were also sentenced to death. Former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan was sentenced to life in prison, three other officials received 15 years in prison and one was acquitted.

File:TrialSaddam.jpg

File photo of Saddam Hussein appearing before the Tribunal on July 1, 2004
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Proceedings

The five-member Special Tribunal was authorised by the Iraqi Interim Government to try Iraqi nationals or residents accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or other serious crimes committed during the Ba’ath party rule between 1968 and 2003.

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has more about this subject:
The Trial of Saddam Hussein

During today’s hearing, Judge Rauf Rasheed Abdel Rahman ordered bailiffs to force Saddam, who was shouting out protests, to stand as the verdict was read out.

Hussein was reported as appearing shaken as the verdict was pronounced, and later shouted “Allahu Akbar!” (God is greatest) and “Long live the nation!”.

The sentences of death and life in prison carry an automatic appeal, and no time-limit is set for the appeals court review of the case. The law mandates the death sentence to be carried out within 30 days, after all appeals are exhausted.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who is a defence attorney in the case, was ordered out of the court by the judges, who said that he had come to mock the Iraqi people and the court. Clarke had described the court yesterday as prejudiced and lacking impartiality, and called attention to the killings of Hussein’s defence lawyers and the removal of judges from the tribunal.

Reactions

In Iraq

Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Iraqi coalition government said the verdict was as expected, adding “This is the least that Saddam deserved because his crimes were great. No further punishment was possible.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih called the court “just and professional” and said that Saddam was “given the justice he denied to the people of Iraq over 35 years”.

A Sunni member of parliament, speaking under anonymity to Reuters, however called the judgement “a political verdict from a political court.”

Popular reaction

The verdict was announced amidst increased security measures in Iraq, including curfews in Baghdad and other cities. Despite the curfew, around a thousand people were reported as coming out into the streets of the Shiite-dominated Sadr City in celebration and gunfire was heard in Baghdad.

Celebrations were also reported in Dujail, where the killings took place.

Despite the curfew, about a thousand people demonstrated in Tikrit carrying pictures of Saddam Hussein. Some Sunnis were reported as denouncing the verdict as a “product of the US occupation forces”.

Fighting is reported to have broken out in Adhimiyah, a Sunni district of Baghdad, within half an hour of the verdict. There was heavy firing and mortar shells landed near the Abu Hanifa mosque.

International reactions

The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad said the verdict was “an important milestone for Iraq”.

The U.K. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett welcomed the trial’s conclusion, saying it was “right” that Saddam and the other accused have to face Iraqi justice, and that they have been “held to account for their crimes”.

Malcolm Smart, the Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International said that the tribunal’s proceedings failed to meet necessary standards for a fair trial.

Hussein’s verdict was delivered during highly contested midterm elections in United States; where the party most insistent upon an American occupation of Iraq (Republican – GOP) lagged in polls due to domestic controversies.

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May 19, 2006

US General in Iraq Claims Employment can Undermine Insurgency

US General in Iraq Claims Employment can Undermine Insurgency

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Lt. General Peter Chiarelli, the No. 2 ranking US general in Iraq, has made the assertion that providing jobs for the Iraqi people is key to ending the insurgency and stabilizing the country.

In a video teleconference with reporters at the Pentagon he said, “by creating jobs and opportunity, the Iraqi government would take away a major source of support for violent movements — aimless, underemployed, young men who would otherwise rather be gainfully employed and supporting their families, but are laying IEDs, shooting RPGs and fighting Iraqi security forces and the coalition because they lack alternatives…. In areas where unemployment is the highest, as I go out and talk to people in those areas, and they tell me the one thing that you can do to lower the number of insurgencies is find jobs for the people. And we’re committed to help both the Iraqi government and the PRTs as they go about the business of doing exactly that.”

The General also said that the insurgents were taking advantage of political disputes within the Iraqi leadership as they are attempting to form an inclusive government.

Chiarelli’s assertion is similar to a claim made by Lt. General John R. Vines in 2005 that insurgents often attack US forces out of a desire to earn money instead of ideology. Simple tasks, such as placing a bomb or mine, are often done in exchange for amounts as little as $100 to $150.

The estimated unemployment rate in Iraq for 2005 was 25-30%.

Opponents of the Bush administration’s handling of the war say that Iraq’s unemployment crisis is partially a result of decisions made by the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003 to disband the Iraqi army and purge the Iraqi civil service of high-ranking members of the Baath Party. Both of these moves led to an estimated 500,000 Iraqis losing their jobs, about one out of every ten Iraqi workers at the time.

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December 6, 2005

Witnesses testify in former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein\’s trial

Filed under: Archived,Ba'ath Party (Iraq),Crime and law,Iraq — admin @ 5:00 am

Witnesses testify in former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s trial

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Tuesday, December 6, 2005

As the trial of Saddam Hussein drew another day of testimony, the court heard the testimony of five witnesses of the killing of 140 men in Dujail, a town north of Baghdad.

Witnesses who feared showing their face or voice were allowed to testify in a covered box with their voice altered. Their names were also protected and each witness was named with a letter. The defense was, however, allowed to know the name of the witnesses as long as those names were not disclosed outside the proceedings.

Tuesday’s court session lasted around nine hours.

Testimony Highlights

Witness A

  • Female
  • Iraqi intelligence officers in the Abu Ghraib prison beat her with cables and gave her electric shocks
  • Recalled torture of family members and others in prison
  • Officers destroyed homes and orchards

Witness C

  • Male
  • Taken to Baath Party headquarters at age 12, where he was tortured and then sent to Abu Ghraib prison
  • Spent four years in desert prison camp
  • Saw Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti at Baath Party headquarters in Dujail
  • Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti is Hussein’s half brother

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April 1, 2005

Iraq: Uneven voter turnout elects women who push sharia law while anti-woman violence rages

Iraq: Uneven voter turnout elects women who push sharia law while anti-woman violence rages

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Friday, April 1, 2005

The Shi’a cleric-backed United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), holds a majority in the new parliament, and asserts that sharia is “non-negotiable”.

Half of those who won seats reserved for women in the new National Assembly of Iraq are members of a coalition dominated by Shi’a religious parties, and they say they want Islamic sharia-based laws with legal differences in treatment for the sexes, and which permit a certain level of domestic violence.

Says Nada al-Bayiati, of the Women’s Organisation for Freedom in Iraq, “It’s weakening our position. How can you argue for women’s rights when the women are undermining you?”

Eighty-nine in all, women make up one-third of the current parliament.

United Iraqi Alliance pushes for sharia

The Shi’a cleric-backed United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), holds the majority of seats in the National Assembly since the recent election, and asserts that sharia is “non-negotiable”.

“If you say to a man he cannot use force against a woman, you are asking the impossible,” pediatrician turned politician, Jenan Al-Ubaedey of the UIA, told The Times.

“So we say a husband can beat his wife, but he cannot leave a mark. If he does that, he will be punished.”

“If you don’t allow your husband to take another wife, he’d have an affair anyway . . . I’d rather know my husband has another wife that I know about.”

Under a proposed law, men would be allowed up to four wives, regardless of the desires of the first wife, while women may have only one husband.

And if two other laws currently slated for debate go through, women will only be eligible for half the inheritance given to men, and denied custody of children over the age of 2 in the event of divorce.

Skewed vote, with little choice on women’s rights

Legitimacy of the election, and the Assembly it elected, has been questioned.

Forty Sunni groups via the Muslim Scholars Association, had called for boycotting to protest the U.S.-led occupation, while Shi’a on the other hand vigorously promoted voting in the election, influencing not only voter turnout, but also what candidates were on offer.

And over 40% of Iraq’s population live in mostly-Sunni governates of Baghdad, Al Anbar, Ninawa and Salah ad Din, where entrenched violence was significant-enough to dissuade willing voters.

Turnout in these four governates ranged from a mere 2%, in Al Anbar, to a high of only 51%, in Baghdad. Comparatively, in the nine more peaceful, mainly-Shi’a regions in the South, turnouts averaged 71%; and for the three Kurdish regions in the North, the average was 85%. [1]

Final official figures of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI), reveal that overall, 58% of registered voters actually voted in the 2005 election — however many who were eligible did not register including three quarters of expatriots.

One woman who abstained, Houzan Mahmoud, a UK based spokesperson for The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, did so not because of a clerical command or to protest the occupation. In a published statement she says that violence that has erupted against women since the invasion, and that policies do not differ significantly between candidates, when it comes to women’s rights.

“If Iraqi women take part in Sunday’s poll, who are they to vote for? Women’s rights are ignored by most of the groupings on offer,” she writes.

“In reality, these elections are, for Iraq’s women, little more than a cruel joke. Amid the suicide attacks, kidnappings and US-led military assaults of the 20-odd months since Saddam’s fall, the little-reported phenomenon is the sharp increase in the persecution of Iraqi women. Women are the new victims of Islamic groups intent on restoring a medieval barbarity and of a political establishment that cares little for women’s empowerment.

“Having for years enjoyed greater rights than other women in the Middle East, women in Iraq are now losing even their basic freedoms. The right to choose their clothes, the right to love or marry whom they want. Of course women suffered under Saddam. I fled his cruel regime. I personally witnessed much brutality, but the subjugation of women was never a goal of the Baath party.”

However, according to the US State Department’s Fact Sheet Iraqi Women Under Saddam’s Regime: A Population Silenced, Iraqi women in fact endured significant political repression under the regime of Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi government and its representitives are claimed to have used beheading, rape, torture, and murder as political tools against certain women such as political dissidents or those whom the government declared to be prostitutes, in order to maintain their party’s hold on power.

Some of these kinds of violence continue to be perpetrated by certain individuals and groups in the new Iraq. Mahmoud continued, “In the last six months at least eight women have been killed in Mosul alone – all apparently by Islamic groups clamping down on female independence. Among these, a professor from the city’s law school was shot and beheaded, a vet was killed on her way to work, and a pharmacist from the Alkhansah hospital was shot dead on her doorstep.”

Move to sharia started before election

But the move to sharia law actually came before the election. In January 2004, the Iraqi Women’s League (IWL) expressed horror at the interim Shi’a dominated Iraqi Governing Council’s Decision 137, which they explain replaced Iraqi civil law concerning family law, with sharia law.

“Decision 137 establishes sectarianism and gives formal power to informal, unaccountable and self appointed religious ‘leaders’,” the IWL statement said.

“The Iraqi family law (otherwise known as the Personal Status Law) is the achievement of the struggle of the Iraqi people for much of the past century not a law written by Saddam Hussein.”

After protest by IWL and others, and appeal to former U.S. administrator Paul Bremer, the Decision was anulled.

Changes erode hard-won equality for women

Iraq! What About Iraqi Women?, an essay by Bhaskar Dasgupta, tells that Iraqi women were winning rights as early as the 1920s and 30s, which improved their status. By the time of the overthrow of Hussein, they had formal equality under law, including not only the right to vote and freedom from wearing of veils, but the right to work with equal pay, paid maternity leave, higher education, extensive medical coverage, and eligibility for political office or voluntary military service, among other rights.

According to Dasgupta, these rights made Iraq a leader in equality of the sexes in the Middle East for the better part of last century, although a number of studies reveal horrific abuses of both women and men, under Hussein’s regime, and Hussein enabled laws allowing men to kill their wives in certain situations (see Wikipedia article Honor killing for background on the practice).

The first Gulf War in 1991, and ensuing sanctions, made economic conditions in Iraq difficult, and literacy and employment rates of women began falling.

Now the majority party in the only internationally recognised parliament of Iraq wants to reaffirm the interim Iraqi Governing Council’s repeal of the Personal Status Law, and its replacement with laws based on sharia, a doctrine which in some countries sees women stoned to death as punishment for engaging in extra-marital love affairs.

Random and pernicious violence against women sanctioned by some Islamists

The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq in its latest newsletter, Equal Rights Now, alleges widespread violence against women since the U.S.-led invasion. The violence has been facilitated by the general lack of order, and includes documented cases coming from U.S. troops, as well as locals.

“Violence against Iraqi women in general and in the city of Mosul in particular continues. Groups of political Islamists, in collaboration with remnants of the Ba’ath Party, have launched a campaign of terror and killing against women for no reason other than that we are women,” reads one report.

The report continues to detail killings of women attributed to Islamist gangs, who “have sanctioned the raping of ‘quislings’ and ‘infidels’ because they claim those women’s souls, property and bodies are fair game for all so-called freedom fighters”.

Many other such reports exist, despite a strong taboo against discussion of sexual abuse, which could be expected to result in significant under-reporting of these cases. However, many of the allegations have not had the degree of media coverage that the notorious abuse cases of Abu Ghraib Prison of 2003-04 received.

Puppet politicians

According to Dr Udaedey, many of the women legislators are in fact puppets. “It’s true that many of them — maybe a third — have just been put there by the men. They are not aware and don’t come to meetings, so they don’t know what’s going on,” she told The Times. “About 10 per cent of them are learning, but the others don’t really care.”

However, Dr. Udaedey plans to remained focused on protecting the role of Iraqi women as shar’ia law seems destined to become a guiding influence on Iraq’s new constitution. According to her interview in the Christian Science Monitor, “She plans to encourage women to wear the hijab and focus on nurturing their families. At the same time, she says, she will fight for salary equity, paid maternity leave, and reduced work hours for pregnant women.”

Elected Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, in an interview with Der Spiegel, also asserts that women will not be forgotten in the new Iraq. He says that sharia law will remain “only as one of several sources of jurisprudence” and that women will “Never [be required to wear veils in the new Iraq]. They will be free to choose for themselves.”

Sources

  • Raed Jarrar. “Vote For Food” — Raed in the Middle, January 31, 2005

See also

  • The Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding. “Iraqi Elections – January 2005” — The Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, viewed April 1, 2005
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