But, at least until recently, Mohammed and many of his gay friends went one step further, slipping into lovers' houses late at night. And, until the American invasion, they said, Iraqi society had quietly accepted them.
But being openly gay is not an option in the new Iraq, where the rise of religious extremism has left Mohammed and his gay friends feeling especially vilified.
In January, a United Nations report described the increased persecution, torture and extrajudicial killing of Iraqi lesbians and gay men. In 2005, Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, calling for gay men and lesbians to be killed in the "worst, most severe way."
The above is from Cara Buckley's "Gays Living in Shadows of New Iraq" in this morning's New York Times. It should have made the front page but is instead buried on A8 because, certainly, Docker Boy Bill Carter gushing that Leno and Conan might return to new broadcasts is FRONT PAGE NEWS. Oh, it isn't? Well someone tell that to the New York Times.
MADRE's report earlier this year covered this topic in part six ("Gender-based Violence against Men") of their report "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq;"
A corollary to the systematic violence against women in Iraq is the campaign of torture and killing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and intersex (LGBTTI) Iraqis under US occupation. Homophobic attacks intensified in early 2006, after Grand Ayatollah Sistani issued his fatwa (religious decree) saying that anyone accused of "sodomy or lesbianism" should be killed "in the worst, most severe way possible." The fatwa triggered a systematic witchhunt by SCIRI's Badr Brigade, which was carried out while the group was receiving military training from the US. Badr militiamen began ordering Iraqis to kill gay and lesbian family members in "honor killings." In socalled religious courts with no official authority, selfappointed clerics--including those affiliated with Sistani--preside over the "trials" and executions of those accused of homosexuality.
As Ruth noted Saturday, there seems to be a lot of revisionary tactics going on including, in the case of Iraqi female police officers, that this was something the US forced off on Iraq and the US was wrong to do so. That's revisionary. Iraqi women were police officers long before the US started the illegal war.
Can the US impose things on another nation? It has no right to, but does it have the ability to? No in most cases. Now it's really funny that some of the biggest cheerleaders for this illegal war now want to point to the attacks on women or the attacks on LBGT and say, "Well, we can't impose."
As if this was the reality in Iraq before the illegal war started?
That wasn't the reality. Women, gays and lesbians, Christians, Palestinians and many others had a better life before the start of the illegal war. The biggest fatality in the Iraq War has been the destruction of a society and someone can lie all they want, they can suggest that the problem is we can't "impose" our standards on Iraq. But here's the reality, Iraq was never a blank slate.
Iraq was an advanced nation and it's not now. The ones who destroyed it and the ones who cheered the destruction now want to play it off as if Iraq was worse before the illegal war. That's not reality.
The US government elected to arm thugs. It did so because it was (a) cheap and (b) 'practical.' It was 'practical' because the thugs would take of the country while the US focused on remaking the nation's economic system. Thugs were trained and armed with US tax dollars. The "Salvador option" was announced publicly and it's a bit late in the game for anyone to pretend that the US government didn't know exactly what it was doing. This is where tax dollars continue to go.
There is no 'win' in Iraq and there never was. But it's equally true that the US has destroyed the country. They've taken a society that was tolerant and put the wack-jobs, thugs and crooks in charge. What did Jerry Falwell say after 9-11? "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians -- who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'." Now nut-job Jerry died this year so we're all better off in the US. But what was done in Iraq was the equivalent of turning the US over to the nut-jobs.
If that happened here, the 'belief' would be that a nut-job like Jerry could turn out enough psychos to fight meaning he'd be one of the factions to arm and turn against the American people. It would completely destroy the fabric of America but maybe the invaders were being 'practical' and just had their eyes on our economic-system? That's what's happened over and over in Iraq and continues to happen. It is not correct to look at the news and say, "Look what they do to each other." What's in motion in Iraq now was caused by the US. The correct statement is, "Look what we've done to them."
The US has destroyed Iraq and the US needs to leave. Whatever happens after the US pulls out is going to happen regardless. If it's violent, it will be more violent than what would have happened if the US had withdrawn long ago. Just as staying longer increases the chances that the violence will be even greater.
The US needs to leave. There was never a 'win' to be found. There have been no improvements for Iraqis. People can put out all the revisionary myths they want but it won't change the fact that you had an advanced civilization (which suffered under constant bombings and under sanctions) and the illegal war has destroyed the Iraqi society.
What happens when the US leaves? A bloodbath? Maybe. Maybe not. No one knows. But it is known that as surely as the US supports a puppet government that does not represent Iraqis, it supports death squads. There is no 'fix' just as there is no 'win.' Each year that the illegal war (which never should have started) continues makes it that more difficult for Iraqis to pick up the pieces of their demolished society and start rebuilding. Each year that the US supports and funds the puppet government and the death squads prevents democracy, real democracy, from rising up in Iraq.
That's a lot more important than whether Jay and Conan will return to NBC airwaves and maybe that's why Buckley's article isn't on the front page.
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