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Reknowned Iraqi Women’s Rights activist Yanar Mohammed will be a guest on Joy of Resistance on Thursday, March 12 between 9 & 10 pm (EST). The show will also contain excerpts from one of the many forums surrounding the Beijing +20 Commission on the Status of Women, which is meeting at the UN this March.
About Yanar Mohammed: Yanar Mohammed was born in Baghdad. She is a co-founder and the director of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, and serves as the editor of the newspaper Al-Mousawat (Equality). She is one of the most prominent women’s rights campaigners in Iraq, and received the Gruber Foundation Women’s Rights Prize in 2008. Her organization has set up shelters–now five of them–for women in Iraq fleeing honor killings, gay men and women threatened with murder, and, recently, women who are survivors of ISIS.
While not being anti-religion, she is a strong believer in secular government and claims that women’s equality ‘can only be achieved through secular government because an Islamic government would hurt women’s rights.’ She cites the 2008 Human Rights Watch Report states that women have been ‘attacked on the street for what they consider “immoral” or “un-Islamic” behavior including not wearing a headscarf’, and that ‘the threat of these attacks keeps many Iraqi women at home.’
As a result of her work on women’s rights that essentially attacks what could be called ‘hard line’ interpretations of Islam, Yanar has had to receive personal security as a result of having received death threats. Jaish al Sahaba, part of the Iraqi Islamist group the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation, sent two death threats to Yanar Mohammed in 2004. These were quoted as being directly related to Yanar’s efforts to achieve gender equality in Iraqi law. As a result she has now been provided with armed protection. Yanar has been strongly critical of the US invasion of Iraq, suggesting that the ‘US occupation turned the streets of Iraq into a ‘no-women zone’.
She has also talked of a false choice existing between occupation and ‘political Islam’ (religion taking on State functions, i.e., theocracy) clearly preferring a third way between these two. The ‘choice’ in Iraq is between: ‘..the American occupation that is willing to do genocide, or..political Islam, that will make us live in a completely inhuman and unliberated way of life’. Speaking in an interview in 2007, she outlined her views in the US invasion and the effect it is having on Iraq:
‘..the suggestion is that the US troops should leave immediately, because we, the people of Iraq, do not agree that all the jihadists from around the world are coming to Iraq to fight this so-called US evil, and our cities are turning into an arena of fight, and all our lives are being devastated. The US troops need to leave immediately, with no conditions. And we do not accept the debate that there will be a bloodbath afterwards, because nothing is worse than the sectarian war that we are living right now, that is also a consequence of this war’.
Yanar believes that the US occupation of Iraq is fuelling the insurgency and violence prevalent in post-2003 Iraq, which is having a detrimental effect on women’s rights.