Friday, March 30, 2012

Arab Summit 2012

BAGHDAD — Arab leaders assembled in Baghdad on Thursday for a landmark summit marked by lavish hospitality, speeches hailing Iraq’s return to the Arab fold — and a rocket explosion at the Iranian Embassy on the edge of the fortified Green Zone, where the gathering was taking place.

It was a day full of symbolism for a newly assertive Iraq, anxious to shed its reputation as the region’s outcast, a country too dangerous, too dysfunctional and too tainted by its associations with both Iran and the United States to accomplish anything so ambitious as a summit attended by Arab heads of state.

Arab leaders, wearing traditional robes, swept along red carpets through the opulent, exquisitely renovated Republican Palace, which until a few years ago housed U.S. soldiers and diplomats. Bowing waiters offered trays of tea and juice to dignitaries as they stepped out of limousines. The menu served at the banquet featured dates coated in 24-carat gold as Iraq endeavored to show it was up to the extravagant standards typically set by the annual event.

“This is a nation that was distanced, overlooked, boycotted, sanctioned,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said at a news conference after the event. “And now it is back.”



Full Arabic text of the Baghdad Declaration of the Summit via Reidar Visser

Some highlights:

We the leaders of Arab States meeting at the 23rd summit of the League of Arab States at Baghdad, the Republic of Iraq, 29th March, 2012, declare the following:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani addresses UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as secretary general of the Arab League during the Arab Summit opening in Baghdad (his handler/bodyguard doesn't look very impressed):

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Go back to your country, terrorist

Shaima Alawadi, an Iraqi woman living in Southern California who was found severely beaten next to a threatening note saying "go back to your country," died on Saturday.

Hanif Mohebi, the director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he met with Shaima Alawadi's family members in the morning and was told that she was taken off life support around 3 p.m.

"The family is in shock at the moment. They're still trying to deal with what happened," Mohebi said.

Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five, had been hospitalized since her 17-year-old daughter found her unconscious Wednesday in the family's house in El Cajon, police Lt. Steve Shakowski said.

The daughter, Fatima Al Himidi, told KUSI-TV her mother had been beaten on the head repeatedly with a tire iron, and that the note said "go back to your country, you terrorist."


Monday, March 12, 2012

Iraq just gets more and more wonderful

Another nice, friendly banner on a concrete block in Baghdad, basically threatening to enforce hijab:

Ultimatum... warning. Beware of uncovering [your head] and adorning yourself because it violates [the teachings of] ALL religions. He who was warned is henceforth excused. Note: whoever removes this banner will be subject to severe punishment.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Reuters says 14 emo youth have been killed in different Shi'ite districts of Baghdad. So far this is the first western media report on the story.

This is one of the flyers posted in Sadr city with a warning and a list of names of 'emo' youth and 'jrawa' complete with their district numbers and neighborhoods.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Over 100 'emo' Iraqi teenagers reported killed

My sources in Baghdad say up to a hundred teenagers have been murdered in different parts of the city and some have been reported kidnapped. More information here:
[M]ilitias had warned emo youth and LGBT people that they would kill them a month ago. Posters containing the threats were put in cafés and on street corners in Baghdad.

In Baghdad local media reported massacres of emo youth and LGBT people occurring in the districts of Sadr, Chaala, Albaladiat, Baghdad Al-Jadedah, Karadah and Kadhymia. The number of victims claimed ranges from 56 to 100.

An Iraqi LGBTQ activist reported to GME an eyewitness account about a method used to murder victims by hitting their heads and body parts with concrete blocks repeatedly until death.

Another method, reported by Iraqi media, involves pushing off the tops of high buildings.

In addition five survivors were murdered inside hospitals according to a confidential witness, cited in the activist’s report

According to the same LGBTQ activist, at least 45 victims had been killed (mostly gay men in Baghdad only) according to family members and medical staff in some hospitals.

Local Iraqi media announced the total number of victims who were killed until the 7 March reached around 90 people.

This blog has some detailed background information on the killings and many related links.

The Ministry of Interior's press release on the murders is surreal (translation from link above):
Colonel Mushtaq Talib Mohammadawi said: “The EMO phenomenon was discovered by members of the Directorate in the capital, Baghdad. They have studied it, prepared reports and research, and gone to the Ministry of the Interior to obtain approval to follow up this case and determine how to eliminate them.”

He added that the Ministry of the Interior recognized the importance of this, and a priority was obtaining the approval of the Ministry of Education specifically for the preparation of an integrated plan that would let them enter all he schools in the capital.

The ministry even warned journalists and activists from 'politicizing' the killings and has accused them of 'sensationalism' in their reporting.

This is a story from 2010 about an 'emo' girl in Najaf.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

New wave of attacks against LGBT community in Iraq

It's not just gays or lesbians. Even teenagers who are considered 'emo' have been targeted in Sadr City by the Mahdi Army, some smashed in the head with concrete blocks. They call them jrawa (lit. puppies), and they have actively been hunting them down since 2008/2009. There was a fatwa on Sistani's website back in 2006 to kill homosexuals, though it was later removed after western media coverage.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has today received reports from Iraq of a wave of targeted killings of individuals who are perceived to be gay or lesbian. According to Iraqi human rights activists, in early February 2012, an unidentified group posted death threats against "the adulterous individuals" in the predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and Basra. The threats gave the individuals, whose names and ages were listed, four days to stop their behavior or else face the wrath of God, and were to be carried out by the Mujahedin. According to sources inside Iraq, as the result of this new surge of anti-gay violence close to 40 people have been kidnapped, brutally tortured and murdered. The Iraqi authorities have neither responded to this targeted violence nor have they publicly denounced it. It is widely believed that these atrocities are being committed by a group of the Shiite militia.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

American gym teacher shot dead in Kurdish region

I heard a rumor that the argument was something about religion
An Iraqi student shot dead his American teacher and then killed himself in northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region Thursday following an argument, the provincial governor said.

"There was an argument between the student and his American teacher ... and as a result of that argument the student shot dead his teacher using a pistol he had, and then shot himself," said Sulaimaniya Province Governor Zana Mohammad Salih.