Fatwa Against Kurdish Writer:

Mark Thomas writes in the New Statesman:

Kurdish writer Marywan Halabjaye ... is in hiding with his pregnant wife and three children; he has been sentenced to be beheaded by the fatwa committee of Halabja. His crime was writing a book entitled Sex, Sharia and Women in the History of Islam, which includes a textual analysis of the Koran and how it is used to oppress women.

"I wanted to prove how oppressed women are in Islam and that they have no rights actually," says Marywan, "although this is really a traditional topic among progressives." In fact, he is well known among Iraqi Kurds and has written on religion before with a minimum of fuss.

So his book was published last November, after permission had been sought from the Kurdish bureaucracy. The print run was for 1,000 copies, and the work proved popular enough for a second edition to be issued within a month. "The Islamists were not happy with this," says Marywan, "because they always want to hide the oppression of women within Islam."

Islamic scholars from Halabja made an official complaint about Marywan to President Talabani. Letters followed to the Kurdish newspapers, calling for him to be punished. Throughout December the verbal attacks continued from the mosques throughout Halabja, Irbil and Kirkuk. Then three of Kurdistan's Islamic parties, the United Islamic Party, the Islamic Kurdish League and the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan, joined the debate. By which I mean they bellowed for him to be punished....

[T]he secular Kurdish politicians have allowed this state of affairs to flourish. "The Kurdish authorities have not provided any protection from threats and fatwas," says Marywan....

UPDATE: Originally mislaid the name of the person who called this to my attention, but now I have it -- many thanks to Charles Chapman (Is-Ought Problem) for pointing this story out to me.

Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
I've addressed this at some length, including a picture of the front cover of the book, on my weblog:
The Salman Rushdie of Iraqi-Kurdistan
The Is-Ought Problem
2.24.2006 3:45pm
nk (mail) (www):
"I wanted to prove how oppressed women are in Islam and that they have no rights actually," says Marywan, "although this is really a traditional topic among progressives."

Not all Islam. Turkey, Pakistan and Indonesia had women Prime Ministers. His real crime may be that he is showing the backwardness of the Kurds.
2.24.2006 7:55pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
I don't know if Turkey, Pakistan or Indonesia could have a woman Prime Minister today given the apparent rise in Islamicism. The question is not rhetorical; I honestly don't know.

While Iran never had a woman Prime Minister or head of state, under the Shah it was certainly more progressive and egalitarian with respect to its treatment of of women than it is now. I've read the similar things Muslim majority countries ranging from Egypt to Bosnia.
2.24.2006 8:16pm
Starlight (mail):
Another example of Islam - "the religion of peace" ???
2.24.2006 8:26pm
Daedalus (mail):
Once again, the religion of peace (ROP) expects their demands to be met, but refuses to give any respect to anyone else. Although Wahabbism is currently a minor sect of Islam, Wahhabism is the official state religion of Saudi Arabia, and is being exported world wide through the Madrassas that they support. Unfortunately, there is a direct correlation between the spread of Wahabbism and the spread of violence and intolerance. The spread of Wahhabism and its accompanying violence and intolerance will continue as long as there are petro dollars flowing into Saudi Arabia from an oil hungry world.
2.24.2006 9:06pm
nk (mail) (www):
I am very reluctant to paint all Muslims with the fundamentalism brush. Different nations ahve taken different approaches. Turkey, having seen a century of disaster under the Caliph/Sultans imposed a militarily-enforced secularism in public affairs. The Balkan Muslims (Albanians, Kosovars and Bosnians) developed a laisez-faire attitude culturally and socially. I do not know enough to theorize about Indonesia and Pakistan. I do agree that the Wahabites are using the power of the oil-fed purse to make inroads into the more liberal Muslim communities. For example, they have been destroying pre-Islamic totems in Chechnya and buying and defacing (improperly in their view) decorated mosques in Bosnia.
2.24.2006 10:21pm
Since 9/11 we have heard constant murmuring against Muslims in the USA because so few of them have publicly condemned the extremists.

This story, among others, should help to answer the question: the moderate Muslims in many countries speak out at their peril. I wonder how much that is true in the USA. A non-Muslim editor or pundit can speak very freely without fear, but if a Muslim tries to do that, does he have to think about who will come after him? Is there a climate of intimidation, even in the USA? I am asking to learn; I suspect that there is such a climate but I don't know.
2.24.2006 10:57pm
There is a chain of intimidation. Salman Rushdie didn't walk down the streets of London with a banner, did he? They can get you anywhere if you're not careful.

Your average Muslim is sick of the whole thing, but if the religious authorities are issuing death-fatwas with one hand and being spiritual guides with the other, you can't reject the violence without rejecting Islam.

This is another reason why there needs to be an Islamic Reformation--Every man an Imam!
2.25.2006 11:09am
Marc Gersen (mail) (www):
It should be noted that the Theo van Gogh murder was due to his film "Submission" which was about the treatment of woman and Islamic fundamentalism.
2.25.2006 10:52pm
Miss Glass:
usually when i read things like this my reaction is to check out and possibly obtain the book. sadly, it appears amazon doesn't have it. have you seen/read it?
2.27.2006 11:50am