Monday, January 04, 2010

Crackdowns, bombings

The banner appeared mysteriously this fall on a railing along Abu Nawas Street, the hub of nightlife on the banks of the Tigris River in downtown Baghdad, where the atmosphere in recent months has grown markedly more subdued.
"Damned is he who sits at a table with alcohol," the handwritten sign said.

The above is the opening to Ernesto Londono's "Crackdown on alcohol seen as part of conservative moment in Iraq" (Washington Post). Basra attempted a ban on alcohol in the fall (they dropped the ban last month). The Economist noted:

The merchants themselves, mostly Christians from northern Iraq, prefer arak, an aniseed spirit. On December 3rd they toasted the local government after its recent rescinding of a law banning the sale of alcohol during religious holidays. “Freedom won this round in the battle for Iraq’s future,” says one.
But celebration may be premature. A shop called Zeitun was recently shot at from a passing car and a bomb thrown at it. The Iraqi army has started patrolling Watan Street and has already dismantled several other bombs. “I rely on God,” says Zeitun’s owner, Luqman Faeq. His booze-selling colleagues admit they are nervous.

From the December 17th snapshot, "In other religious minority news, AFP reports a Yazidi, Murad Sardar, was arrested on Monday and his family has not seen him since. His crime? Apparently selling alcohol in Babylon Province. He is the last known seller of alcohol." Prior to the Iraq War, alcohol could be sold in Iraq and had been. May 26, 2003, Anthony Browne (Times of London) reported on the then new and emerging problem which would become the norm as the war dragged on:

At least 100 off-licences have been burnt down since the end of the war and two Christian shopowners have been shot dead as part of a campaign by Islamic extremists. Most of southern Iraq has now become alcohol-free Dozens of Christian families have fled southern Iraq for safety and many others are set to follow. Christian women have been threatened for not wearing headscarves.
Christians who still own shops that sell alcohol say that they are too frightened to open and that they are in fear of their lives. Most of the attacks have happened in Basra, Iraq's second city, although they are also understood to have happened in cities such as al-Nasiriyah, al-Diwaniyah and al-Amara.
Firas George, 43, had built up a business selling food and alcohol over many years, until the British Army entered Basra on April 7. Just three days later his shop was burnt down without warning. "I was also hiring an apartment but the owner of the apartment told me to leave because I was selling alcohol. Before the war, my life was OK. Now I have nothing and my wife and I have no place to live. We are not safe -- at any moment we could be attacked."

Browne drew the connection between the attacks on liberties, they are connected. Dalya Hassan writes about her enslavement for the Washington Post:

In Basra province, in southern Iraq, this trend became so pervasive that some groups forced Christian women to cover up.
Wearing a hijab during Baghdad's sweltering summers can be maddening. But there have been two silver linings in all of this: It protects my hair from sandstorms and rain, and it has pleased my husband, a reminder that sometimes we do things we don't like out of love.
Still, I can't help but sigh each time I think about how I dressed just a year ago when I went to the market. I used to wear short skirts and shirts with short sleeves.

I'm sorry, I'm not idiot like Naomi Wolf. We'll take on Wolf at Third on Sunday. Reading this garbage (above) demands that we do. "A reminder that sometimes we do things we don't like out of love." Grow the hell up, you idiot. I have no sympathy for you and you're not going to sell your enslavement off as 'liberation' or 'love.' It's enslavement. Get your kinky kicks if you must, but don't sell your crap here. At the end of the column, for a moment, the little wimp comes alive and tells her husband she wishes he had to wear it but then quickly notes his anger. Someone needs to tell the idiot that we don't appease anger out of love. We do it out of fear and she needs to stop selling her own abuse and imprisonment to other women as 'liberation' or 'romance.' What a freak. And for those who might feel sorry for Hassan, she left victim status when she wrote the column that could lead others into victim status. Just because you're in hell doesn't mean you should lead others to the same doom.

From doom to . . .? Uncertainty. I've gone back and forth over even linking to this. It's a Telegraph of London report on how British hostage Alan McMenemy might be alive. Might. His families already heard this (his family believes he is alive, regardless of any reports) so we'll go ahead and link. But consider the source (I'm not referring to the paper and someone's fat ass will fry in a snapshot if Alan is not alive). Staying with England, Stephen White (Daily Mirror) notes the growing story in England that Prince Charles vocally opposed the Iraq War (before it started) to then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. Paul Waugh (Evening Standard) adds that there's so much interest in Tony Blair's upcoming testimony to the Iraq Inquiry that there will be a "lottery" to determine who gets seats to attend the hearing that day. Andrew Grice (Independent of London) reports:

An internet-based "people power" campaign is asking its 60,000 members to draw up the "tough questions" that Tony Blair must be asked when he is questioned by the Iraq inquiry this year.
38 Degrees, a group set up last year in memory of the Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick, wants to ensure that Mr Blair is not let off the hook or allowed to answer the most sensitive questions in private.
Although Sir John Chilcot, the former Whitehall mandarin chairing the inquiry, has insisted that Mr Blair will be questioned mainly in public, critics of the 2003 invasion fear the former prime minister may cite national security in an attempt to ensure some of the hearing is behind closed doors.

The Iraq Inquiry resumes Tuesday (not today as I wrongly stated -- my error, not my first one and not my last, my apologies). Tony Blair is not scheduled to testify anytime soon (nor is he scheduled to testify before the Parliamentary elections are held in England). However, Tom Baldwin and Sam Coates (Times of London) report the Labour Party feels that he's a drag on the party and can't be deployed in turn up the heat and turn out the vote efforts in the coming weeks.

Violence continue in Iraq. Li Xianzhi (Xinhua) reports 2 bombs today in Kirkuk which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left five more wounded. AFP says the wounded toll has now reached eight. In addition, Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing left eight people injured and a Mosul bombing that left five people injured.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Colgate Ready" went up last night.
Year-end pieces: Kat's "Kat's Korner: 2009 in music" and Ruth's "Ruth's Report" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Brownie Approved" and his "The 2010 Plan" went up Friday. Kat's "Kat's Korner: The decade in music" and "2009 in books (Martha & Shirley)" went up Thursday and "Reflecting on 2009 (Beth)" posted on Sunday. In addition, Ann's "2009 in DVDs" and Stan's "DVDs of 2009" (joint-post) looks at DVDs. I did "The Year of Living Sickly" Friday and Trina examines the economy in "The economy," Marcia the 'message' sent to the LGBT community in "What I learned this year" and Rebecca notes how the sexism came from the top in "the 2009 take-away."

Also Marcia's "Doing the Google" went up last night.

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