Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Remember the Ladies


Remember this woman? She's Safia Taleb al-Souhail, a leading advocate for women's rights in Iraq. The photo above shows her being trotted out as Exhibit A in Bush's 2005 State of the Union Address. Bush had this to say:
"One of Iraq's leading democracy and human rights advocates is Safia Taleb al-Souhail . . . Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country -- and we are honored that she is with us tonight."
And now that the Iraqi Constitution appears to be shutting the door on women's rights and, oh, secular democracy in general, she has this to say:
"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened -- we have lost all the gains we made over the last 30 years. It's a big disappointment."
I think if she were in the balcony again, she might turn that victory sign around and give Bush a nice little U.K. F.U.

(Links through Billmon.)

3 comments:

Yossarian said...

If we are there to "develop" "create" "foster" "invent" Democracy, you think we would do it for everybody.

Some History, - that up until 1991 Iraq had some of the most progressive views on women's rights in the entire Middle East. According to the The Iraqi Provisional Constitution (drafted in 1970) , women had the right to vote, go to school, hold political office and own property. This had much to do with the secular Ba'ath party coming into power.

But with UN sanctions and Saddam's choice to embrace traditional Islamic and tribal ways, women started losing out. People started to send only boys to school and women illiteracy rate soared. Rights were taken away and soon women were regulated to traditional roles at home.

zigzag said...

ann althouse http://althouse.blogspot.com/ might want to comment on this constitution thing

see http://althouse.blogspot.com/2005/08/amsterdam-notebookspage-25.html#comments

from althouse's february 2005 report on the state of the union
see http://althouse.blogspot.com/2005/02/state-of-union-speech.html:

althouse quote 2/05

It's very touching when the President introduces Safia Taleb al-Suhail:

(bush--) One of Iraq's leading democracy and human rights advocates is Safia Taleb al-Suhail. She says of her country, "we were occupied for 35 years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. 'Thank you to the American people who paid the cost' but most of all to the soldiers." Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's intelligence service. Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country - and we are honored that she is with us tonight. (--endbush)

She stands and holds her fingers up in the peace/victory sign, then rotates it around into a single index finger, the inkable voter's Finger of Democracy. Later, Bush introduces the parents of Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood, who was killed in Iraq. Norwood's mother, Janet, is standing right behind al-Suhail and, at one point, the Iraqi woman turns around and embraces the American woman. The embrace goes on for a long time, and we imagine al-Suhail is thanking Janet Norwood for what her son gave to the Iraqi people. This long, symbolic embrace leaves a deep impression, beyond any words in the speech.

endquote from althouse 2/05

Otto Man said...

Rights were taken away and soon women were regulated to traditional roles at home.

Look, Bush said freedom was on the march. He just forgot to mention it was marching out of Iraq.