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ICC Note: Many are wondering where Iraq is heading and fear we are going to be left with a little Iran in the South.

Basra women fear militants behind wave of killings

BASRA, Iraq (for the full story go to Reuters) – Women in Iraq’s southern city of Basra are living in fear. More than 40 have been killed and their bodies dumped in the streets in the past five months for behavior deemed un-Islamic, the city’s police chief says.
A warning scrawled in red on a wall threatens any woman who wears makeup or appears in public without an Islamic headscarf with dire punishment.

“Whoever disobeys will be punished. God is our witness that we have conveyed this message,” it says.

Women in the Shi’ite city are convinced hardline Islamic militants are behind the killings and say they fear going out without a headscarf.

“Some women were killed with their children,” Basra police chief, Major-General Abdul-Jalil Khalaf, told Reuters. “One with a six-year-old child, another with an 11-year-old.”
Khalaf, who was sent to Iraq’s second-largest city in June with a mandate to get tough on criminals, said he did not know who the perpetrators were but vowed to catch them.

Rita Anwar, a 27-year-old Christian, said she was thinking of leaving Basra, or even Iraq, altogether.

“You would not believe that I also wear the headscarf sometimes. It is terrifying to read this graffiti in red threatening murder,” she said.

A group of tribal Shi’ite leaders told Reuters in October that Shi’ite Islamist political parties were imposing strict Islamic rules in southern provinces and using their armed followers to create a state of fear.

“A party official who is also a university student came to me and said female students should not attend exams without wearing the headscarves,” said one student, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

“He told me ‘God willing there won’t be any girl left in the university without wearing a headscarf’.”

Khalaf, who has won praise from coalition forces for his efforts to clean up Basra, said investigations were still under way to find those behind the killing of women in the city.

(Writing by Alaa Shahine, Editing by Dean Yates and Andrew Dobbie)