Iraq: Religious decree prohibits all kinds of singing



Religious decree prohibits all kinds of singing

In Iraq, new personal freedoms has ushered in a fervent fundamentalism. In September 2006, a group of religious enforcers in Baghdad banned “music-filled parties” and all kinds of singing, reports the American newspaper Washington Post

In an article in Washington Post, Sudarsan Raghavan describes how the young men of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fanned out across the neighborhood Tobji in north-central Baghdad, moving from shop to shop, posting the new religious decrees. Printed neatly on white-and-green fliers, the edicts banned vices like “music-filled parties and all kinds of singing”. They also proscribed a list of other things, such as celebratory gunfire at weddings and “the gathering of young men” in front of markets or girls’ schools, and that men should cut their hair.

The new decrees in Baghdad come from a little-known council called Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a title derived from a verse in the Quran. It is created by the local office of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, based in Tobji.

Washington Post’s reporter in Baghdad writes that the decree was signed “The Sadr Martyr’s Office” and ended with a warning: “Those who do not comply with these rules will be held accountable”.

Muqtada al-Sadr’s father, Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, a revered ayatollah who was assassinated in 1999, was emblazoned on the flier, giving it the force of law.

The head of the local Sadr office told Sudarsan Raghavan that he had placed “one or two men everywhere” – at girls’ schools, at the market, on the main streets – to enforce the new edicts.
“Personal freedom is only in your house or property,” said Abu Ahmed, who asked that his full name not be used.

People fear a visit from members of the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia linked to Sadr that many Sunni Muslims say runs death squads under the cloak of Islam.


Washington Post – 5 October 2006:
‘Another Freedom Cut Short’

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