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I'll drink to that

In an article attempting to lightheartedly portray the prevalence of alcohol in Iraq, the New York Times slips in these comments about how things have changed:

After his defeat in the Persian Gulf war in 1991, he was an isolated figure, no longer credible as a pretender to the leadership of the Arab world. His 1996 "iman" campaign the word means faith in Arabic was one response. He began showing up more regularly at mosques and suffusing his speeches with Koranic references, and in the late 1990's he ordered the construction of two new Baghdad mosques that are to be the biggest in the Islamic world, one to be named after himself.

Deviations from Islamic social norms also caught his eye. According to Western human rights reports, one result of the faith campaign that has gained increasing momentum in the last year has involved the arrest and summary execution of prostitutes, some of them by sword.

The 1996 ban on drinking in public places was another result. Iraqis say its most obvious effect, apart from the closure of bars and pubs, has been the proliferation of speakeasies and a sharp rise in drinking at home.

Hmm. Remember all the anti-war types who insist that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda couldn't possibly have any dealings because Hussein is secular and Al Qaeda is religious?


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