Thursday, June 03, 2004


Tribal Codes:

According to the last general census, about 35% of all Iraqis live in rural areas. A good portion of city dwellers are first- or second- generation migrants from the countryside. All those people subscribe to some tribal code of conduct. That should not be under-estimated when evaluating the effect of recent events on Iraqis and their possible reaction to them.

[A “Hasham” is a penalty for injured dignity.]

A Woman’s Scream
Many tribesmen look down on women! It often infuriates me!
Yet, in the tribal code of many of the tribes in Iraq, if a woman is insulted or violated in any way that she screams, the offence is equivalent to murder!

The House’s Hasham
In the tribal code of many of the Iraqi tribes, entering a house by force or uninvited is equivalent to killing a man (unless you were a fugitive!).

The Head-band
To some tribesmen, the “igal” or headband is such a symbol of dignity that it has a “hasham”!

A slap on the Face
A slap on the face has sometimes led to murder. It is invariably regarded as an insult of some magnitude. The greater the social status of the person offended, the greater the offence!

Sex is Taboo
Sex and any sexual talk is almost universally taboo in the traditional Iraqi society! To know that a woman has been abused is one of the greatest possible crimes that can be committed!... even touching somebody’s mother, wife or daughter is a crime that can only be rinsed with blood. Otherwise, the man in question cannot look anybody in the eye or share a gathering!

Country folk never tire of telling the story of the Bedouin who, upon taking his revenge after 40 years, said: “maybe I have rushed things a bit!”

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