I liked the front-page piece in the New York Times today about the return of vice to Baghdad. The 'money quotes' were:
A young woman who said she was 28 but looked 18 sat smoking, and downing soft drinks while her “date” drank Scotch. A university student, she would give her name only as Baida, but she was frank about her nighttime profession. Had something happened to force her into this? “No,” she said. “I go out with men so I can get money.” To support her family? She seemed stunned by the question. “No, for myself.”And,
“If I had my way, I’d destroy all the mosques and spread the whores around a little more,” the detective said. “At least they’re not sectarian.”But the piece suffered from the usual myopia one associates with the NYTimes, for example: "The Baathists who ruled here from the 1960s until the American invasion in 2003 were secular, and more than a little sinful." The monarchy (1921-1958) was secular, and the Qasim years (1958-1963) laid the foundation for legalistic 'secularism'. Baghdad was sinful way before Iraq was born. What's more, reporters seem to forget Saddam's 'Faith Campaign' to enforce stricter Islamic morals during the 1990s, when bars, liquor stores, and brothels were shut down. They also seem to forget that 'Uday held tens of public beheadings of women accused of 'prostitution' (...many opponents of the regime and their families had their reputations besmirched as part of this campaign).
And who wrote 'Allahu Akbar' on the Iraqi flag? It was Saddam.
So enough with the "Iraq was secular under Saddam" meme already.