Iraqi Freedom


From the South China Morning Post:

Iraq has gone through a revolution in the past three weeks, casting off decades of censorship and state control. Banned books, satellite dishes and video compact discs are now sold on the street—as are alcohol and women.

Nobody knows how long the permissiveness will last. Iraq's American administrators assembled Iraqi political leaders yesterday to discuss a new government, and many Baghdad residents believe that once it is in place, some of their freedoms will disappear.

Conservatives are counting on it. Horrified by the changes, some Iraqis blame America for what they call a cultural degradation. If it continues for long, they promise to rise up in a holy war against the US forces.

"Everything against Islam, everything we hate, has been imported by the Americans like a disease," said Abbas Hamid, a 60-year-old merchant.

"We'll fight them. We're tired now, but we'll rest up and use our guns to drive the Americans out."

For now, Mr Hamid appears to be in the minority as Iraqis excitedly discover worlds of vice—and virtue—long forbidden by the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein. Teenagers now gape at singer Christina Aguilera's navel via new satellite dishes, and young lovers smooch in roadside cars, hidden behind tinted windows that were banned by Mr Hussein because they prevented police from spying on motorists.

Prostitutes can also be seen walking the streets in some neighbourhoods, beckoning passing motorists.

"Before, everything was forbidden except the air," said retiree Mohammed Jabbar.

"Now, we don't have electricity, we don't have water, but we are free."