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Islamists Threaten To Murder Iraqi Socialist Feminist
gender and sexuality |
Saturday March 03, 2007 20:48 by pat c
Houzan Mahmoud, Representative of the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq has been threatened by Islamic Fundamentalists. On February 26, 2007, Houzan received an e-mail signed by Ansar al-Islam, the notoriously brutal jihadist group based in Kurdistan/Iraq.
The death threat, delivered via e-mail, read:
"With the permission of Great God, we will kill you either in Iraq or in London by the middle of March, because you are campaigning against Islam. You should be sent to God for punishment."
Houzan Mahmoud, who is currently based in London, is originally from Iraqi Kurdistan, where she recently led a campaign against the imposition of Islamic Sharia law in the proposed constitution. Houzan, aged 34, is a militant Iraqi feminist, secularist, journalist, and human rights activist. She has resolved to persist in her work, despite being targeted by Ansar al-Islam. Houzan has recently co-founded an initiative to end the occupation of Iraq and present a secular, egalitarian alternative through the Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC).
Houzan says: "I will continue doing what I am doing now, going around the world cultivating support for women in Iraq and Kurdistan as well as exposing the violence and gender apartheid that Islamists are imposing on millions of women in the region."
Comrade Houzan needs your support. Show solidarity by contacting her at:
To give you an idea of what Houzan stand for I am adding extracts from some of her past articles below.
Iraqi women much worse off under occupation
Iraqi women were treated far better during the Saddam Hussein era, and their rights were much more respected, local rights NGOs concluded after an extensive survey in Iraq.
"We interviewed women in the country and met with local NGOs dealing with gender issues to develop this survey, which asked questions about the quality of women's life and respect for their rights," said Senar Muhammad, president of Baghdad-based NGO Woman Freedom Organization, a sister organization of MADRE, an international women’s rights group. "The results show that women are less respected now than they were under the previous regime, while their freedom has been curtailed."
Iraqis still live with “shock and awe”
On the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Houzan Mahmoud says that women in the country are bearing the brunt as things go from bad to worse.
On March 20, the Iraqi people have reached the dismal milestone of the third-year point since the United State-led invasion of Iraq. From the shock and awe of the aerial bombardment of 20 March 2003, they are now contemplating a fourth year of continuing terrorism, extreme insecurity, destruction, and the daily violation of women’s rights.
As we know, war in Iraq was sold to the world as a mission to bring about an end to “terrorism”, to plant the seed of “democracy” in this part of the middle east, and to free Iraqis from Saddam’s country-wide torture chamber. And as we equally now know, this has been far from the outcome, with Abu Ghraib’s ghastly porno-torture images, mass imprisonments and the daily bombing and shooting outrages.
Hidden passions: Activist Houzan Mahmoud finds inspiration by going to visit historic buildings
I have been a women's rights activist for a long time - but what with being a mother of a daughter aged seven and a political refugee from Iraq, my life is not like everyone else's.
I start my day by taking my daughter to school. Back home I try to keep up with the news. I recently left my job as an adviser for women who had experienced domestic violence - I speak three languages and have a lot of experience with women who have fled domestic violence. Now, I am about to become a full-time student again, studying international relations and politics at Metropolitan University.
A dark anniversary
In the modern history of Iraq, September 24 is a dark day. It was on September 24 2002 that the US administration decided it would launch its barbaric war against the Iraqi people.
The period of 2002-2006 is only the most recent phase in this. Since the first Gulf war in 1991, thousands of people have been killed: 13 years of destructive sanctions and the 2003 invasion and ongoing occupation have been claiming lives of Iraqi civilians at a sickening rate.
Since the invasion, more than 100,000 people have lost their lives and more than 1 million Iraqis have fled the country in order to seek safety. The UN has recently announced that 6,600 people have been killed in Iraq in the past two months alone. These are just some figures of what seems like genocide against the Iraqi people - one that continues and gathers paces under the US/UK occupation.
The Veil: It's not a matter of choice
The veil is not merely a piece of "cloth", but a sign of the oppression of women, control over their sexuality, submissiveness to the will of God or a man. The veil is a banner of political Islam used, to segregate women born by historical accident in the so-called "Islamic World" from other women in the rest of the world.
I could never have imagined having anything in common with Jack Straw, but I find myself in agreement with him about how it feels talking to a woman covered up in hijab or the "niqab" that covers women fully.
However, I think he has discovered this rather late; in fact, the whole British government is late in drawing attention to this growing phenomenon. Women covering up their entire bodies, young boys becoming suicide bombers and the ever growing demands of religious organisations in the UK to implement Islamic sharia law when it comes to "Muslim family affairs".
Jack Straw's government has always been proud of its "multicultural society", in which all kinds of backward and anti-human cultures are respected and given space by the state. Women from an Islamic background will be among the most oppressed.