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Religion of Misogyny

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When a female judge was appointed to the bench in the Iraqi city of Najaf, the fatwas started flying: In Najaf, Justice Can Be Blind but Not Female.

The swearing-in ceremony was scheduled for today for Nidal Nasser Hussein, a 45-year-old lawyer with a history of breaking precedent in Najaf. She was the first female lawyer to begin working here when she started 16 years ago. There are now 50.

A huge white cake decorated with multicolored flowers surrounded by dozens of cans of chilled Pepsi sat at one end of the chief judge’s somewhat battered chambers when Colonel Conlin arrived for the ceremony.

Outside, a group of about 30 male and female lawyers were chanting in English: “No No Women” and “Out Out Roe,” referring to Specialist Rachel Roe, a Wisconsin lawyer serving as the adviser to the court system in Najaf. A lone Marine gunnery sergeant prevented them from storming the chambers.

We refuse the appointment of a woman judge, because it contradicts Islamic law,” said Rajiha al-Amidi, one of the women in the group protesting the appointment. “This is what the Americans wanted to achieve in the first place with their invasion, to undermine Islam.”

A woman cannot be a judge, she explained, because “women are always ruled by their emotions.”

Colonel Conlin huddled with the Najaf’s chief justice, who showed him at least three fatwas — religious fiats by senior clergy. One was dated June 5, well before the current controversy, but it carried extra weight because it was issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered Shiite cleric in Iraq.

A follower had asked the grand ayatollah two written questions — whether perfume was permissible to wear, given its alcohol content, and whether women could be judges. Although Islam forbids drinking alcohol, wearing perfume is fine, the grand ayatollah ruled, and as for judges, they had to be mature, sane and masculine.

Lots of tolerance here, no misogyny, move along, nothing to see.

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