Iraqi Exile Speaks Out Against the Targeting of Gay Iraqis by Shia Death Squads
From democracy now
"Shiite death squads in Iraq have been systematically targeting gay Iraqis for persecution and execution. The attacks follow a death-to-gays fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani last October. In a question and answer section of his website, Sistani says homosexuality is "forbidden" and calls for the killing of gays in the "worst, most severe way."
ALI HILI: Iraq, at the time of Saddam, was -- I mean, I'm talking about as a gay Iraqi -- it was not as bad as we can see now. In fact, it was a little bit -- we have a little bit acceptance. We have little bit of -- not too many intimidation. People are really accepting gays, especially in theater, in entertainment and media. We had several actors, singers, which was very popular before. There was no homophobic attitudes toward gay and lesbians. Most of them are welcomed in the community and the society. And people just -- we indulgence with the rest of Iraq.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And what has happened in the period since the U.S. occupation?
ALI HILI: Well, we started to receive information, in particular, the last two years, when we made contact with our friends, in particular, my old friends in Baghdad. And horrific, horrific details about, I mean killing, intimidation, harassing, arresting. It's a very dark age for gays and lesbians and transsexuals and bisexuals in Iraq right now. And the fact that Iraq has been shifted from a secular state into a religious state was completely, completely horrific. We were very modern. We were very, very Western culturalized -- Iraq -- comparing to the rest of the Middle East. Why it's been shifted to this Islamic dark ages country? read more