Secularists from the Iraqi semi-autonomous Kurdish region are pushing for a government ban on Friday religious sermons, thereby spurring an ideological rift with practicing Muslims there, an online news agency reported on Friday.
Intellectuals, and feminists egged on Kurdistan’s government to ban Friday sermons after an Imam of Majidawa Mosque in Arbil, Farman Kharabaiy, accused a number of Kurdish feminists of blasphemy during his sermon, eKurd.net said.
The imam also started distributing pamphlets “A Lost Truth” pointing the finger of accusation at feminists by saying that they use women’s rights issue as a “business to get rich”.
Iraqi Kurdish women’s rights activism has pushed for gender equality in their region, and the issue was in the spotlight as a hot topic of discussing in recent weeks in the Kurdish parliament.
“The main concern here in Kurdistan is that religious leaders think that they must be leaders of the whole society,” said Marwan Naqshabani, a political expert.
The Kurdish parliament is currently discussing a law on which the government will only authorize and broadcast three Friday sermons, one from each of the Kurdistan region’s major cities of Arbil, Sualimaniya, and Duhok.
“Ninety percent of the people here are Muslims. Those who are gathering signatures and petitioning the government to make this law should consider its acceptance by the majority of the people in the region,” said Salim Koyi from the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan.
“Religious leaders talk about the failure of the political leadership and the absence of government. That’s why even the ruling parties are silent, when religious leaders are attacked by intellectuals,” he added.
Baghdad bans alcohol
The ban of alcohol and nightclubs in Baghdad has pushed dozens of dance halls and clubs to move up north in the past months.
The crackdown against alcohol in the Iraqi capital started to happen in November when Iraqi officials ordered the closing of clubs that served booze, and forbade alcohol sales at stores.
Baghdad in the 1970s and 1980s was renowned for being the capital of Middle East has witnessed its nightlife, its musicians, dancers and impresarios to migrate north.
Theater and music classes were also previously banned in Baghdad’s art institutes, only after a change in the education ministerial post due to Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s formation of new government after months-long of political impasse.
The new education minister who ordered the classes to be back is from the secular Aliraqiya List headed by Iyad Allawi.
Difference between Baghdad and Sulaimaniyah is that those religious beliefs don't dictate society's rules for everyone, a spokesman for the Kurdish Ministry of Religious Affairs, Meriwan Naqshabandi, told AP.