In Muqdadiyah, 50 miles from
In the fifth year of occupation, the sectarian and ethnic divide between politicians, parties and their warring militias has become monstrous, turning on its creators in the Green Zone and beyond, and not sparing ordinary people. One of the consequences is a major change in the public role of women.
During the first three years of occupation women were mostly confined to their homes, protected by male relatives. But now that the savagery of their circumstances has propelled many of them to the head of their households, they are risking their lives outdoors. Since men are the main target of US-led troops, militias and death squads, black-cloaked women are seen queuing at prisons, government offices or morgues, in search of disappeared, or detained, male relatives. It is women who bury the dead.
Bodies are found across the country from
Occupation has left no room for any initiative independent of the officially sanctioned political process; for a peaceful opposition or civil society that could create networks to bridge the politically manufactured divide. Only the mosque can fulfil this role. In the absence of the state, some mosques provide basic services, running clinics or schools. In addition to the call to prayer, their loudspeakers warn people of impending attacks or to appeal for blood donors.
But these attempts to sustain a sense of community are regularly crushed. On Tuesday, troops from the Iraqi army, supported by US helicopters, raided a mosque in the heart of old
It is important to recognise that the resistance was born not only of ideological, religious and patriotic convictions, but also as a response to the reality of the brutal actions of the occupation and its administration. It is a response to arbitrary break-ins, humiliating searches, arrests, detention and torture. According to the Red Cross, “the number of people arrested or interned by the multinational forces has increased by 40% since early 2006. The number of people held by the Iraqi authorities has also increased significantly.”
Many of the security detainees are women who have been subjected to abuse and rape and who are often arrested as a means to force male relatives to confess to crimes they have not committed. According to the Iraqi MP Mohamed al-Dainey, there are 65 documented cases of women’s rape in occupation detention centres in 2006. Four women currently face execution – the death penalty for women was outlawed in
There is only one solution to this disaster, and that is for the
Another way of understanding this is that in any one hour, day or night, there are seven or eight new attacks. Without the Iraqi people’s support, directly and indirectly, this level of resistance would not have happened.
â€¢ Haifa Zangana, an Iraqi exile who was imprisoned by Saddam Hussein, is the author of Women on a Journey: Between Baghdad and