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Religious freedom? Women's rights? What's that?

I was waiting to see how long it would take before this business came back and bit the Bushies in the ass.

The case of Abdul Rahman, the man who converted to Christianity and is now facing execution in Afghanistan (under Sharia law, that’s a big no-no), puts the issue of human rights and freedoms and the Iraqi constitution right back in the spotlight.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, one of the holy rollers on the White House speed dial, makes a direct comparison to Iraq in relation to religious freedom, and the Bushies have to be wringing their hands (Crooks and Liars has video).

“Their constitution and the wording of giving deference to Sharia law is very similar to what is in the Iraqi constitution….The resolve of the American people will not long stand if they know that they are giving their sons and daughters to die for just changing the names of regimes.”

Back when there was debate about the fate of women’s rights in the Iraqi constitution, I was incensed, but not surprised, that the Bush admin did not defend language for full equality for women. Islam is “a main source” for legislation and bans laws that contradict religious teachings in the Constitution of Iraq. From Asra Nomani’s article, The Sharia Problem, in The American Prospect:

In seemingly innocuous language, the constitution is in fact a nightmare for women. Article 2, for example, is a self-fulfilling prophecy for disaster: “First: Islam is the official religion of the State, and it is a fundamental source of legislation.” The notion of Islamic law in legislation wouldn’t be so frightening if the new leaders of Iraq could be trusted to rise to the highest principles of social justice and women’s rights in Islam, but they can’t–particularly considering the pressures exerted on them by militant and extremist political forces both on the Sunni and Shiite sides who seek to make Iraq a model Islamic state in the vision of Saudi Arabia, Taliban Afghanistan, and Iran.

…The constitution rhetorically provides for gender equality and women’s rights. Article 2 (Section B) says: “No law that contradicts the principles of democracy may be established.” And, in another place in Article 2 (Section C), it offers: “No law that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms stipulated in this constitution may be established.”

But, ultimately, Article 2 leaves room for Islamically mandated inequality to trump women’s rights. The prevailing schools of Islamic sharia, for instance, have as one of their “established provisions” the notion that daughters receive less inheritance than sons, theologically justifying such a system. In a logic that denies women independence and self-determination, women are “maintained” by men. Article 29, stipulates, “All forms of violence and abuse in the family, school and society shall be prohibited,” but what about “established provisions” of sharia that interpret a verse of the Qur’an (Chapter 4, Verse 34) to allow men to “beat” disobedient wives? A growing movement called Islamic feminism challenges many of these interpretations but it hasn’t yet taken root in the mainstream Islamic establishment.

Why, then, should anyone be surprised to see in Afghanistan, the full-flowering of intolerance by religious extremists when the very law of the land permits the execution of someone who dares to follow another faith? If the clerics are in control, it’s not just going to be women who are under the thumb of the oppressor.

So, Dear Leader sent the young men and women of our country to fight and die to “liberate” Iraq and now who knows what women or those who choose another faith will be subject to in Iraq — the clerics in the end will decide.

The human rights horrors of a religious state like Afghanistan are not beyond possibility in the “democracy” we’ve created in Iraq. It’s not the bright, shiny model of freedom Bushies were fantasizing about while in their fugue state over the bungling of Iraq — and now the fundie base has finally been awakened to the ramifications of Dear Leader’s amoral international warplay and is speaking out.

Of course when it’s only homos that are being killed because of a fatwa issued by an Iraqi Muslim cleric, no one gives a damn.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding