On my blog I have focused a great deal on the backward views of Wahhabi clerics, and more recently I have discussed the injustices carried out by the Iranian regime as well, but I have not written about the backward views of many Iraqi Shia, including Ayatollah Ali al Sistani. Over the weekend I watched an episode of the Turkish soap opera Nour, which has been dubbed in Arabic by mbc and is a huge hit in the Arab world. My cousin told me that Sistani has warned young Iraqis not to watch the soap, presumably because it promotes secular ideas. Showing women without veils no doubt irritates conservative Muslim clerics, and I'm not surprised by the Saudi grand mufti's attack on "malicious" Turkish soap operas, but to hear that Sistani has done the same surprises and upsets me. I cannot confirm that Sistani warned Iraqis not to watch Nour, but more seriously, Sistani did issue a fatwa against homosexuals and instructed to kill homosexuals "in the most severe way". Sistani eventually renounced the fatwa, but by then it was too late for many gay Iraqis.
Other fatwas by Sistani and practices by conservative Shia make me laugh, and some of them I find quite backward, even more so than fatwas by Wahhabis, because Sistani's words affect Iraqis directly. I have praised Sistani before, and I still admire him for calling for peace and unity among Iraqis, but I hope he respects the fact that much of Iraqi society is secular, and I hope he does not move to make Baghdad look more like Tehran.