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Women's work

Women representing 17 civil society groups took the streets of Najaf on Aug. 3.

Issue: "Space: Dawn of Discovery," Aug. 13, 2005

Ahead of an Aug. 15 deadline for drafting the constitution, terrorist attacks in Iraq spiked: 27 U.S. troops and 41 Iraqi military and civilian police were killed in the first four days of the month. "My son was the last of the John Waynes, but tougher," said the father of Marine Cpl. Timothy Michael Bell Jr., 22, one of 14 killed in the deadliest attack ever on U.S. Marines fighting in Iraq. On Aug. 3 their vehicle struck a roadside bomb near the Syrian border. All 14 were members of a unit based in Columbus, Ohio.

The rise in terrorist attacks over the past month and its link to the constitutional debate in Iraq should not be underestimated. No one has a greater stake in the wording of Article 1 than al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

Intense pressure from the Islamic left and right is falling on Baghdad's parliamentary committee on the constitution. And it's this simple: whether Article 1 will declare the Quran "the" source of inspiration behind Iraqi laws or "a" source. For the sake of those wee words, U.S. and Iraqi forces are shedding their blood, and brave Iraqis are taking to the streets to have their voices heard, too.

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Women representing 17 civil society groups took the streets of Najaf on Aug. 3.

"We want to make clear that we're against any attempt to revive the notorious 137 personal affairs laws," organizer Intisar Al-Mayali declared. "We want a civil law to govern issues like marriage and inheritance . . . and even the existing civil law that we support needs to be modified and improved in a way that matches the needs and rights of Iraqi women and we insist that Islam must not be the only source of legislation."

What is striking about the protest was its location, Najaf, a Shiite stronghold where local elected leaders and clerics demand Islamic law be the law of the land.

That is why al-Qaeda's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri came out of hiding in Afghanistan in an Aug. 4 videotape long enough to issue more death threats to U.S. troops in Iraq and more strikes against the United States. He may wag his finger at the West. But it's the women he's afraid of.

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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