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ICC Note: The constriction of rights for women in Iraq today is symptomatic of the problem for Christians. Islamic radicals (Sunni and Shiite) have gained power and control over their respective tribal areas. Christians (infidels) suffer and are caught in the middle and suffer much worse than just being forced to wear abayas.

Islamic influence has Iraqi women reaching for scarves

Thursday, April 12, 2007

04/12/07 Iraq — (for the full story, go to the San Fran Chronicle) For two years, Faiza Abdal-Majeed has carried a head scarf in her purse for emergencies.

For a woman residing in the Iraqi capital four years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, these emergencies can include checkpoints manned by armed militiamen, impromptu forays through neighborhoods controlled by religious zealots and taxi drivers who refuse her fare unless she sports a veil.

Abdal-Majeed’s job with Iraq’s women’s affairs ministry also brings her into frequent contact with government officials, police officers and Muslim clergymen who insist she cover her head before they speak with her.

“Some clerics and politicians are forcing religion into our lives,” said Abdal-Majeed, 45. “We’re being pushed back 1,000 years in time.”

Baghdad once was considered a secular, cosmopolitan metropolis where Islamic customs seldom collided with women’s fashion. Today, however, what women wear — perhaps as much as anything — is evidence that religious ideology has strengthened its grip and forced half the population to submit to traditional Islamic garb.

The shifting attitudes have many people concerned that Iraq is moving closer to a theocracy similar to neighboring Iran , where women are required by law to cover their heads, even as other countries in the region are seemingly advancing women’s liberties.