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Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

April 5, 2003

freedom of religion.

The British have restored the azaan, which had been forbidden by the Ba'ath Party regime. This article from the BBC details how else life is slowly re-adapting to it's traditional channels now that the heavy hand of the Ba'ath has been lifted:

The townspeople, whose mosque was destroyed years ago, prayed in the privacy of their own homes. But instead of their worship being a secret and dangerous thing, it was freely performed with new joy. The 1st Battalion Royal Irish secured a public address system for the Imam and men from their attached Royal, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers installed it on Thursday night in time for Friday prayers.
The return of the call to prayer is perhaps the most significant sign yet that the shanty communities inhabiting the wealthy oilfields of southern Iraq are recovering their equilibrium under occupation by the British Army. Another is the re-opening of the barber's shop where many officers from the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment are paying 250 dinars (10p) for a trim, which is finished with a cut-throat razor.
The primary and secondary schools with 40 and 20 pupils apiece, have also opened their doors. They are flying the Iraqi flag as a symbol of national identity but all pro-Saddam slogans have been painted out by local townspeople and Baath propaganda stripped from the classrooms. ... A new football pitch, volleyball court and schoolyard are to be built for the children by the 1st Royal Irish.

Although none of the food shops has reopened - the traders are trapped in the southern city of Basra - nomadic tomato and onion sellers have returned to the marketplace and flatbreads are being baked.
"We can't play god and enforce our own societal values on people, we need to enable them."

There is a deep and ancient culture that articles like this and elsewhere in the British press have and will continue to explore. But what disturbs me is that this is ultimately counter to the American view, which equates democracy with culture. The most outspoken propenent of this is Steven Den Beste, who argues that Arab/Islamic culture is diseased and sees the barbie doll as a neccessary symbol of liberty. I see these reports and I wonder if the same people joyously celebrating the azaan will have to contend with their children refusing to attend friday prayer, because they woudl rather go the new dance club.

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Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

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