Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Funny, that Riverbend should put up a new post. I spoke at a seminar for older adults in a kind of elderhostel program yesterday and I was surprised when a older gentleman came up after my talk (on Sunni, Shia, and Sufi strands of Islam) and told me that he reads the Iraqi blogger Riverbend. We both noted that she hadn't posted since December 31. I recommended Treasure of Baghdad to him.

Today I went to check Helena Cobban's Just World News and heard that Riverbend had posted again. Her topic? An Iraqi woman had come forward to claim that she had been gang-raped by US-trained security forces on al-Jazeera. On Al-Jazeera!! That is a dramatic and powerful act. Nearly unthinkable. I can only imagine the conversations going on in living rooms and kitchens across the Arabic speaking world today. Rape is not a crime that is easily discussed or prosecuted in the Middle East. In a subsequent post Riverbend notes:
No Iraqi woman under the circumstances- under any circumstances- would publicly, falsely claim she was raped. There are just too many risks. There is the risk of being shunned socially. There is the risk of beginning an endless chain of retaliations and revenge killings between tribes. There is the shame of coming out publicly and talking about a subject so taboo, she and her husband are not only risking their reputations by telling this story, they are risking their lives.

Nuri al-Maliki's response was not just to denouce this woman but to reward the men accused of the crime. Ugh! You can read Maliki's statement on her blog as well.

Both blog entries are essential reading. More, perhaps on this later. Sick children and an important lunch meeting mean that there is little time for blogging today.

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