[This voice of an Iraqi women on the US occupation must be heard. As people in the US are being asked, once again, to support the war moves of the US and allied governments, the experiences she relates must be heard, in order to build the struggle and solidarity against imperialist war. The views she expresses are drawn from her experience, and are not necessarily the views of Revolutionary Frontlines. We thank William T. Hathaway, the author, for submitting this article for posting. — Frontlines ed.]
by William T. Hathaway, author
SAMs for Uncle Sam, from the book “RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War”
Merna al-Marjan is a young Iraqi who is currently in Germany studying European history. We talked in her dormitory room, a spartan but functional cubicle in a building that embodies a hopeful change in European history: it was constructed in the nineteenth century as an army barracks but now houses university students. That’s progress.
On Merna’s small table sat a pot of peppermint tea and a plate of baklava. She’s short and plump with smooth skin the color of clover honey and deep anthracite eyes; she was wearing a long skirt of light cotton, a long-sleeved blouse, and a green paisley headscarf.
Hathaway: “Headscarves have become a controversial item of clothing here in Germany.”
Al-Marjan: “Yes, you can’t teach in the schools if you wear one. It’s OK for a teacher to wear a Christian crucifix but not a Muslim headscarf. I didn’t wear a hijab in Iraq, but I’ve started doing it here to show solidarity. It’s ridiculous to ban an article of clothing, a simple piece of cloth. What sort of freedom is that?
“The West has such a distorted view of Arab women. Well, of men too, but since I’m a woman, I notice that more.
“What really makes me mad is when Westerners use the way women live in the Muslim world as a justification for invading it ― either with their armies or their ideas. They’re convinced we should be like them. If they were happy, that would be one thing. They could say, ‘Here, follow our example.’ But they’re much unhappier than most of us are. Their marriages and families fall apart, their children commit terrible crimes, commit suicide. Their society is fragmented into these isolated individuals who have to compete against one another. It’s a wreck, but they’re trying to force it onto us. Continue reading →