Monday, March 21, 2005
Students of the Basrah and Shatt Al-Arab universities in Basrah city have been on strike for the last three days as a reaction to the attack last week by Sadrists and Mahdi Army militiamen on tens of students organising a field trip or a picnic at Al-Andalus park, downtown Basrah.
Hooded men assaulted the students with rubber cables and truncheons which resulted in the death of a Christian girl, Zahra Ashour, and another student who came to her rescue after militiamen had tore off her clothes and were beating her to death. He was shot in the head.
Students say that their belongings, such as mobile phones, cameras, stereo players and loudspeakers, were stolen or smashed to pieces by the militiamen. Girl students not wearing headscarves, most of them Christian, were severely beaten and at least 20 students were kidnapped and taken to Sadr's office in Al-Tuwaisa for 'interrogation' and were only released late at night.
Students also say the police and British soldiers were nearby but did not intervene.
A Sheikh As'ad Al-Basri, one of Sadr's aides in Basrah, stated that the 'believers' of the Mahdi Army did what they did in an act of 'divine intervention' in order to punish the students for their 'immoral and outrageous behaviour' during the 'holy month of Muharram, while the blood of Imam Hussein is yet to dry.' He added that he had sent the 'group of believers' to observe and photograph the students, and on witnessing them playing loud music, 'the kind they play in bars and discos', and openly talking to female students, the 'believers had to straighten things out'.
No reaction yet from the Governorate council, the police, or the British forces in Basrah. Thousands of students have been demonstrating in front of the Basrah Governorate building in Asharr for the last three days, shouting 'No to political Islam', 'No to the new tyranny' and 'No to Sadr'. The police (which is loyal to Da'wa in Basrah) reportedly attacked the students in order to disperse the demonstrations.
All this while some people are campaigning for Sistani to receive the Nobel peace prize. One can't help but wonder if these kinds of events are what the Islamists have in store for us when they insist on 'respecting the Islamic identity of Iraq'.
They can blame Jordan, Syria, the Ba'ath, Salifis, Wahhabis as much as they want, but they cannot utter a single word about the old new medieval Inquisition we have to deal with every day, under the sanctity of Sistani and his ilk. The new Taliban.
Update: The Governor of Basrah appeared on Fayhaa tv yesterday claiming that the problem with Sadr's office was resolved peacefully. How exactly was this achieved? The esteemed Governor (who is a member of Da'wa) met with representatives from Sadr's office under the mediation of the Shia Islamic parties in Basrah (Da'wa, SCIRI, Fadheela, Thar Allah) and it appears that Sadr's aides had agreed to 'punish the guilty parties under a special religious court that would convene for this purpose' and to compensate the students and to return all stolen items to the students. The Governor then cheerfully met with the family of another Christian girl who was badly injured, 'generously' offering her free treatment in any country she chooses.
No mention of the rule of law here. No involvement of Basrah's civil courts at all. The whole incident was mopped up in an Iraqi-style tribal-religious meeting, but this time on the Governorate level. The guilty parties were sinisterly assigned the job of punishing themselves. A great lesson in democracy. But then, no one was punished for the executions and torture at religious courts in Najaf the last time anyway.
What is even worse, the official statement from Sadr's office in Basrah. It asks for the names of the students that were 'allegedly mistreated' in order to compensate them. And listen to this; 'Sadr's office in Basrah offers to provide the universities of Basrah with groups to protect the students in their future field trips.' This following Sheikh As'ad Al-Basri's fiery statements that the students had 'disobeyed his orders, and the stick was for those who disobeyed,' alasa limen asa. He also alleged that the students had shouted 'No to Islam' in their demonstrations this week, insolently adding that the students should be punished for their 'blasphemy'.
The Governor literally appointed Sadr's office as judge, witness and law-enforcer. We might even say that the Sadrists were in fact rewarded for their vile act. What would the Ministry of Higher Education say about this? Or the Ministry of Interior? Or our ludicrous Human Rights Ministry, which only seems interested in what kind of cookies Saddam is having with his tea, or in Ali Hassan Majid's nocturnal toilet activities.
The students of Basrah have made their demands clear; bringing the Sadrist militiamen to a public trial in the presence of representatives from Basrah's student groups, banning Islamist armed groups from entering campus or running Islamist student groups, and the dissolution of the infamous 'Security Committee' which operates in most of Basrah's colleges, and which is reminiscient of the Ba'ath's 'University Security' but taking a Shi'ite Islamic appearance instead of a fascist nationalistic one.
Student groups from Baghdad, Arbil and Suleimaniya have sent statements of support to Basrah. Incidentally, four students were injured in Suleimaniya during demonstrations that have been taking place for the second week in row against the privatisation of educational institutions in the Kurdish region.
Still no condemnation from the the Hawza, when the attack against the students was done in its name.
Another Update: Here is a detailed account of the incident from the Times which confirms the death of the two students, and here is a Yahoo News story.
There have been rumours that nobody died from the attacks but it seems that these rumours originated from sympathetic Islamic parties and their supporters, all of whom are Shi'ite, and for some bizarre reason they are denying that it was a Christian girl that died, but a Muslim one, as if that is going to make it any less outrageous. The same people who rant about Wahhabi and Salafi crimes everyday. Pot meet kettle.
Friends from Basrah say the sit-in at Basrah university is still in effect, with Sadr's militia now threatening to bomb the campus with mortars if the students do not return to their classes. Governmental authorities and the police force in Basrah have publicly admitted that they are helpless and incapable of doing anything to stop the Sadrists.
Actually, all this is for the good of Iraq. At least the Iraqis can now realise what kind of 'progressive' and 'blessed' monsters they have elected to govern them and write their constitution.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
I know I have been an infrequent poster at best, but I'm afraid it's becoming increasingly difficult at the moment to devote any time to blogging. I have a few priorities in my personal life that I would like to take care of, maybe afterwards I will write again, I don't know. In any case I will mention it here.
I wouldn't like to describe this as a farewell post. I'm not good at these things, but I can always be reached at my email address.
Thank you all for listening and for caring.