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Female violinist causes fallout in Iraq

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 8, 2019 - Duration: 02:07s

Female violinist causes fallout in Iraq

Complaints by religious authorities and conservative politicians over an uncovered woman playing Iraq's national anthem on the violin at a football match in the holy city of Kerbala, have laid bare the rift between Iraq's youth and its political class.

Emily Wither reports.

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Female violinist causes fallout in Iraq

The match should have been a cause for young Iraqis to celebrate.

Their national team beat Lebanon 1-0 but instead everyone is talking about her.

Hosted in the holy city of Kerbala the event drew high-level criticism because this Lebanese musician is not wearing an Islamic headscarf, her arms are uncovered and she's playing Iraq's national anthem.

Many of the city's young say it shows the gulf between them and the political and religious establishment.

Religious leaders from Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim community backed by prominent conservative politicians rushed to condemn the performance.

They felt it quote "overstepped religious boundaries and moral standards." Not to mention it was happening in this holy city.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SHIITE SHEIKH, WAEL AL-BOUDAIRI, SAYING: "We don't have any objection to a woman performing this role in the context of this celebration.

We don't have any objection.

But we are against her appearance, both the woman who played the violin and the one who performed shows.

So, we are against such appearance and we regard it as a violation of the holy sanctity of this city and its religious stature and history." (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) KARBALA RESIDENT, MOSTAFA MOHAMMED, SAYING: "Iraq is a democratic country.

It is not only an Islamic country.

There are various sects and religions in Iraq.

We should have freedom of expression, not religious intolerance." Iraq's Ministry of Youth and Sport, which organised the ceremony, first defended it.

Then backtracked, saying in future they'd co-ordinate with official bodies to prevent scenes in contrast with the holiness of the province.

For many Iraqis, especially women, the stink was bad news.

Serving as a reminder of the power of Islamic authorities as the country tries to recover and open up to the outside world.

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