<\body> Stories in America: Death Threats Sent to Women in Iraq: We Will Kill You

Monday, March 19, 2007

Death Threats Sent to Women in Iraq: We Will Kill You

Don't be fooled by all the bad news. This is freedom on the march:
Last week, Houzan Mahmoud, the international representative of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (a partner organization of MADRE), opened her e-mail and found a message from Ansar al-Islam, a notoriously brutal Sunni jihadist group. The message read simply, “We will kill you by the middle of March.” Houzan is an outspoken Iraqi feminist. The 34-year-old journalist and women’s rights activist believes that hope for Iraq’s future depends on building a society based on secular democracy and human rights. For this, she has been condemned to death.

Houzan is hardly alone in this regard. Since the United States invaded Iraq, women there have endured a wave of death threats, assassinations, abductions, public beatings, targeted sexual assaults and public hangings. Much of this violence is systematic – directed by both Sunni and Shi’ite Islamist militias that mushroomed across Iraq after the United States toppled the mostly secular Ba’ath regime. We’ve heard about the brutality of the Sunnibased groups, but much less about the Shi’ite militias that are the armed wings of the political parties that the United States boosted into power. Their aim is to establish an Islamist theocracy and their social vision requires the subjugation of women and the elimination of anyone with a competing vision for Iraq’s future.


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