. . .Basra, though trash-strewn and impoverished, is much safer than Baghdad and other cities beset by the Sunni-led insurgency. The riverfront walkway known as the Corniche buzzes with life at night. Even foreigners can openly walk the streets.Perhaps in his next state of the union speech, the President can talk of spreading Sharia around the world.
But insecurity is a constant for many Iraqis who do not conform to a strict interpretation of Shiite Islam. In the music bazaar, a tattered warning sign appears on a shuttered instrument shop owned by a famous musician known as Kareem Trumpet. The sign denounces as "soldiers of Satan" the city's "whorehouses and dealers in porn DVD's and gambling shops and music stores."
The bazaar is just blocks away from a strip where sidewalk alcohol vendors once thrived, before armed vigilantes and policemen drove them away.
At least three former officials of the Sunni-dominated Baath Party were gunned down in separate incidents, and a Sunni Arab cleric was kidnapped near his mosque and shot dead. Days later a Shiite cleric was fatally shot while going home.
Few women walk around without a head scarf and full-length black robe. A young woman who gave her name as Layla said she could wear jeans without a robe a year ago. But seven months before, as she strode from her house, a group of men came up to her and warned her that she was improperly dressed.
She says she no longer goes out in public without a robe.
Religious Shiites do not have to legally enshrine Shariah, or Koranic law, to exercise their will. Enforcement of Islamic practices is done on the streets, in the shadows. "We're trying to do it culturally rather than impose it by law," said Furat al-Shara, the local representative for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite political party, known by the acronym Sciri, that holds powerful positions in the national government.
"In the mosques and universities where people learn, we tell them it's a negative thing to do," Mr. Shara said of drinking alcohol or of women appearing in public without scarves.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Join the Army, Bring Sharia to the World
More evidence of the "freedom" we have brought to Iraq, from the New York Times: