Living In Fear

Brian Whitaker has an article in the Near East Quarterly describing the targeting of gay men in Iraq by vigilantes. It makes for sobering reading. Yet, at the same time, some of the absurdities that are resulting would be laughable, if it weren’t for the fact that their perpetrators wield guns and are only too prepared to use them:

The problem in post-Saddam Iraq, though, is that the official legal position counts for less than realities on the ground. The wave of “gay” killings was made possible by the breakdown of state control and the rise of local militias, some of them seeking to enforce their own interpretations of Islamic law. That resulted in people being killed for the most trivial of “sins” – among them barbers who gave customers “un-Islamic” haircuts. It reached a peak of absurdity when al-Qa‘eda elements in Iraq sought to impose “gender” segregation of vegetables. Claiming that tomatoes are feminine and cucumbers masculine, they argued that greengrocers should not place them next to each other, and that women should not buy or handle cucumbers.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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4 Responses to Living In Fear

  1. JL says:

    Segregated vegetables. Huh. I know I should say something next but my mind’s gone completely blank. Peace to you & M. forevermore.

  2. JL says:

    On second thought, wouldn’t it be counter-productive to have only men handling the cucumbers? They might get to like it … and so on and so forth over time … and there wouldn’t be any more Alqee’s to perpetuate the thought patterns.

  3. Geoff Coupe says:

    JL – has anyone ever told you that you have a devious mind?

  4. JL says:

    Not ever. Direct and ‘interesting’ but devious, no. But, doesn’t that sound like a plan? I think we should encourage cucumber-handling by men only, especially in Alq-country.

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