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Saturday, April 19, 2003
Two pluses for Saddam

In watching pictures of 'liberated' Iraq, I contrast what I can learn of life there with that in other countries in the region. There appear to be two positive signs.

Firstly, there seem to be no women subject to the 'total wrapping syndrome' apparent in some Islamic countries. Further, there appear to be many women without headscarves. I was pleased to see one or two women dressed normally at the recent Nassariya conference (although whether they were there as tea girls, rather than as people in their own right, I could not tell).

Secondly, although Saddam Hussein added some words about 'god' to the Iraqi national flag, the country was decidedly secular. Indeed, I saw one interviewee complaining that the Ba'athists sometimes imprisoned people for praying too much.

I fear for the equality of women and a secular constitution - two signs of enlightenment. Iraq under a rigid Islamic code would not be much of a step forward.

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