Iraqi human rights activist, Ali
Hili, reveals that for most ordinary Iraqis, life is now worse than under
Saddam Hussein’s brutal misrule, including for gay men and women.
LONDON, June 26, 2007 – Saddam
was a tyrant. It is good that he is gone.
But since the American and
British-led invasion in 2003, a once prosperous nation has been reduced to
chaos, impoverishment and terror.
Despite the country’s immense oil
wealth, mass unemployment and poverty are now the norm. In many regions,
public utilities and welfare provision have collapsed.
Although many Iraqis are attempting
to forge a peaceful, democratic future, much of the country is blighted by
war, mob rule and sectarian violence. Most people live in a state of
permanent insecurity and fear.
Suicide bombings, assassinations
and death squad killings are daily occurrences. Some of this indiscriminate
violence is perpetrated by foreign al-Qaida terrorists and by Sunni
insurgents, including loyalists to Saddam’s now defunct Baathist regime.
But many of the killers are linked
to leading Shia parties in the western-backed Iraqi government, in
particular to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and
its armed wing, the Badr militia. Other killers belong to the Mahdi Army,
the militia loyal to firebrand fundamentalist cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr.
Both these Shia militias have
instituted a reign of terror, often aided and abetted by Iran. Despite their
differences, Sadr and Badr share the common goal of establishing an Islamist
Under their brutal, perverse
interpretation of Islam, Sunni Muslims and other religious minorities face
harsh persecution; as do women who refuse to wear the veil and who refuse to
submit to male domination. Also targeted by the Sadr and Badr killers are
lesbian and gay people, women who have sex outside of marriage, and anyone
who wears jeans or shorts or who listens to western music. Having a stylish
haircut, drinking alcohol or wearing jewellery can get you branded as an
“infidel” and result in a bullet in the back of the head.
Saddam was evil. But even under his
savage regime everyday life and personal relationships were never subjected
to such extreme moral policing and violent repression.
For women and gay people, and for
Muslims who follow the “wrong” interpretation of Islam, the clock is being
turned back to the Dark Ages.
■ Ali Hili is director of Iraqi
LGBT. Last week he was the guest of Peter Tatchell on “Talking With
Tatchell” screened on 18 Doughty Street TV. To view the 30-minute
||Iraqi LGBT website where you can
find details of how to help
Posted: 26 June 2007 at 15:30 UK