Vigilanteism in Basra
Scheherezade Faramarzi of AP reports on the Shiite militias of Basra and the way they are imposing both law and order, and a puritan style of life on the population (though sometimes they do some kidnapping or coercion of their own).
The militias pose a long-term problem for Iraqi security, since they violate the state’s monopoly on the use of force. And they are depriving persons of rights they have under the law (e.g. to own and operate a video store that purveys a little flesh). They are coercing women into wearing scarves or veils, and it is difficult to see how women’s rights can make any progress in Basra under these circumstances.
The question is whether Basra is in an exceptional situation, or whether it is a harbinger of the future of Iraq.