The people of Iraq have never known a year of peace and freedom in over a hundred years, and one of the expectations of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was the achievement of being able to live in a society in which individual rights were respected. The defeat of Saddam has ushered in the victory of Muslim religious fanatics who seek to impose their view on what people can do in their every day lives. A cleric, Sheikh Abdel Mahdi l-Karbalaie, who represents the Ayatollah sl-Sistani, called for a ban on partying and dancing in the city of Karbala much to the chagrin of many residents. There are already numerous attacks on shops selling music CDs, women’s beauty products and beauty salons. A shop keeper said militiamen invaded his store and demanded that veils be placed over the heads of dummy models in the window. A female customer asked them why they didn’t cover the faces of male dummies.
Residents are just beginning to enjoy the benefits of freedom and want to party and dance and sing and listen to music without some cleric deciding what is or is not religious. Many note their nation contains diverse cultures including Kurds and Christians who should not have to conform to what clerics decide is proper behavior. Many point out in the history of Iraq it was quite common for people working in the fields to sing as they worked.
The Ayatollah’s office said the call for a ban on singing and dancing was the view of a cleric and did not necessarily represent his own views. Who knows, maybe the Ayatollah hums to himself in hidden moments when no one can hear.