The weeniest of all the wingnuts (with the possible exception of Tucker Carlson, about whom more later) can now stop asking his annoying “gotcha” question: Is the world better off with or without Saddam? Because at last there is a definitive answer, and it’s in the negative. And you’ll never guess where it comes from…
Tahseen lives in a Baghdad apartment with his two brothers.
"Right now, I have five gay men hiding in my room in fear of their lives, because they cannot go outside without risking being killed," he said, with anguish audible in his voice. "They are all listening to me as I speak with you."
All those hiding with Tahseen are in their late 20s or early 30s, and by their mannerisms would be easily identified as gay by most Iraqis. I spoke briefly with one of them, who expressed his fear in a soft, shy voice. One of those being given refuge by Tahseen is Bashar, a 34-year-old stage actor, who was forced to go into hiding after receiving death threats against him and his family. Before he went underground, his house was raided several times by the Badr Corps. Fortunately, he was not at home, otherwise he fears he would have been kidnapped and killed.
"We desperately need protection!" pleaded Tahseen. "But, when we go to the Americans, they laugh at us and don’t do anything. The Americans are the problem!"
"These assaults and murders have been reported to the Green Zone, but the Americans don’t want to upset the religious authorities, and so they do nothing or treat gay Iraqis with contempt or as an object of humor," Hili explained, adding that the reports to U.S. authorities were made by underground gay activists.
The U.S. has long sought to court Ayatollah Sistani, and gave its approval for SCIRI’s participation in the current coalition government. SCIRI has since brokered the current plan for talks between the U.S. and Iran over Iranian interference in Iraq, a plan much in the headlines last week.
Hili, who has a bachelor’s degree in English literature, and who used to work for Iraqi radio and television, fled to the U.K. in 2002 after having been persecuted for being gay under Saddam Hussein.
He has been receiving telephoned threats of beatings or death from supporters of SCIRI and Sistani living in England since he became publically identified with the cause of Iraqi gays and as a gay man himself.
"I had two menacing calls just last night," he said.
"In the late ’80s and early ’90s there were a couple of gay clubs in Baghdad," Hili explained, "but they were all shut down in 1993 after sanctions were imposed against Saddam’s regime and Iraq. We had a weekly gay nightclub in the Palestine Hotel that became the gathering place for gay people, especially for actors and others in the entertainment world, but it, too, was shut down. I was arrested three times for being gay, and tortured. After several attempts, I finally was able to escape the country, going first to Dubai, then Jordan, then Syria, and finally reaching England."
Now, Hili says, he is heartbroken to see that, three years after Saddam’s fall, life for gay people in Iraq is even more unbearable than before.
"Just last night I spoke via Internet with a young gay man in his mid-20s who was caught by SCIRI agents. He had no identification with him—gay people are afraid to carry their IDs when they go in the street in case they are caught," because both the police and the Badr Corps agents would inform their families and add them to a list of known homosexuals, which would be used later to target them for killing.
"This young man had his left arm broken by the SCIRI thugs—I saw this with my own eyes via Internet camera," Hili said.
The Abu Nawas Group, according to Hili, is accumulating evidence that Iranian agents are advising SCIRI and the Iranian police on how to implement anti-gay persecution. Not only has Iran’s Internet entrapment campaign targeting gays been adopted in Iraq, he said, but there are reports that Iranian agents have been involved in interrogations, questioning those arrested in Persian through translators.
"This is particularly true in Basra in the south," Hili said.
Hili provided information on the cases of several gay victims of the Badr Corps, but noted, "These killings are just the ones we have been able to get details about. They are the tip of an iceberg of religious-motivated executions. Gay Iraqis are living in fear of discovery and murder."
Hili provided details on several of those killed in Iraq. Ammar, a young gay man of 27, was abducted and shot in back of the head in Baghdad by suspected Badr militias in January 2006. Haydar Faiek, aged 40, a transsexual Iraqi, was beaten and burned to death by Badr militias in the main street in the Al-Karada district of Baghdad in September 2005. Naffeh, aged 45, disappeared in August 2005. His family was informed that he was kidnapped by the Badr organization. His body was found in January 2006. He, too, had been subjected to an execution-style killing.
Sarmad and Khalid were partners who lived in the Al-Jameha area of Baghdad. Persons unknown revealed their same-sex relationship. They were abducted by the Badr organization in April 2005. Their bodies were found two months later, in June, bound, blindfolded, and shot in the back of the head.
The al-Arabiya TV network reported this weekend that a backroom deal had been reached to nominate Abdel Mahdi, a leading SCIRI figure and currently Iraq’s vice president, to be the new Iraqi prime minister—the accord is said to have been reached by representatives of SCIRI, the Kurdish List, and the Sunni Iraqi Concord Front. There is great fear that the Badr Corps-SCIRI campaign against gay people will become official Iraqi policy, especially if the report that a top SCIRI politician may become the new prime minister turns out to be true. Under the Iraqi Constitution—virtually written by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, and his associates—Sharia law, which mandates death for homosexuals, is the foundation of all Iraqi law.
Reuters reported last August 20, under the headline, "U.S. Concedes Ground to Islamists on Iraqi Law," that the U.S. brokered a deal on the Constitution "making Islam ‘the,’ not ‘a,’ main source of law—changing current wording—and subjecting all legislation to a religious test." Reuters quoted a leading Kurdish politician as saying at that time, "We understand the Americans have sided with the Shi’ites. It’s shocking. It doesn’t fit American values. They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state… I can’t believe that’s what the Americans really want or what the American people want."
(Be sure to read the whole article; that’s just a snip. Added emphasis mine.)
So we can see now that one part of the world is definitely NOT better off without Saddam. There never used to be inter-ethnic or inter-religious strife in Iraq before. Now there is. And Iraqi gays, who led marginalized lives before, are in fear for their lives now.
But then again, I guess that in the wingnut world, queers just don’t count. And neither does the uncomfortable little fact that the Bushnik propagandists have, by supporting the invasion and denying that there is now a civil war, helped to create an Islamist monster that’s likely to spring more, not less, terrorism on America someday.
Talk about a waste of purple ink. Please. Sean Hannity won’t!