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Seven years after Saddam Hussein: Women's rights, Freedom, Politics and Religion in Iraq

Lecture and Discussion with Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

November 3rd, 2010, 7 p.m. at Monarch, Skalitzerstr. 134, 10999 Berlin

A few days after the parliamentary elections on March 7, 2010 and seven years after the military fall of the Saddam regime, Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, director of the relief organisation WADI, which operates in Northern Iraq, will give an informative talk about the situation in Iraq. The media in Germany reports mostly about catastrophies.

The New Voice is the first Community Radio established by WADI in Iraq. In addition, there are several women's projects – libraries, cafes, legal advisers, mobile consultation teams – as well as projects within prisons. WADI has recently published the results of the first study about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Iraq and in Iran. Among other issues, the often denied role of Islam in regards to FGM is analysed. It is obvious that huge challenges lay ahead in  order to further democratic development and women's rights.

The elections on the March 7 will reveal the true status of freedom and democracy in Iraq. Is there any democratic development outside of family- and clan loyalty, and what are the ethnic and religious divisions? Which secular forces are present in Iraq, and how big is the influence of the Iranian regime? How is the history of the Ba'ath dictatorship being processed? And what are the realistic expectations for the continuation of a functioning democracy once most of the US troops will have left after 2011?

Thomas von der Osten-Sacken is director of WADI - an association for crisis support and development cooperation (www.wadinet.de). He is a journalist and has authored several books focusing mainly on Middle East issues.

Chair: Jonathan Weckerle, Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin

Presented by the weekly paper Jungle World – www.jungle-world.com