Ann Clwyd on the oppression of Iraqi women by Islamic extremists in Basra

Ann Clwyd is interviewed about this after her recent trip to Iraq.
Ms Clwyd, who returned after a week in Baghdad meeting women MPs, said: ” There is very great concern among women about the pressure put on them to wear the veil or the hijab. I have heard stories of women at the hairdressers being shot. I think there is pressure on women to conform. I really think it is up to the new Iraqi Government to try to get some agreement that women should be able to wear what they want.” She said: “The killing of al-Zarqawi gives added impetus to the declarations from the new Government. It adds to their credibility. There is also an agreement to release over 2,000 detainees. I think that was essential. There have been far too many people kept in detention. Most of them are young Sunni men and if they are not charged, they ought to be released. There are a lot more there. The 2,000 is a start but I believe there will be another 2,000 quite soon.”
Ms Clwyd added: “Women ministers I met, and not wearing the hijab, were all talking about the pressures to wear what they didn’t want to wear.” Ms Clwyd said women’s demands for freedom had to be enforced by the ” majority of the men and the leadership” in Iraq. Mr Blair said he believed in the next few weeks, the Iraqi government would announce measures to impose greater security in Basra to answer the appeals for help from women there.