by Rosie Alfatlawi
An Iraqi governor who imposed wearing the hijab on women in his city has been ridiculed after claims his son has been arrested for drug trafficking.
On Sunday, social media was flooded with reports that Jawad Louay al-Yasari, son of the governor of Najaf province, had been detained for smuggling cannabis and pills.
Louay al-Yasari is a conservative figure who had been conducting a campaign against casinos and cafes in the governorate’s capital of Najaf, which is sacred to Shia Muslims.
Jawad, an intelligence officer in the air force, was arrested along with two other men accused of smuggling drugs disguised as aid packages.
Iraqis called out the governor's apparent hypocrisy, sharing the story of his son's detention alongside a video of him yearning for the days when Najaf was “allowed its special character.”
Louay al-Yasiri, governor of Najaf: Cinema is haram [forbidden], theaters are also haram, while Valentine's Day is haram and Chistmas is haram. Note his son was arrested today, caught up in the smuggling of drugs!
“In Najaf, hijab is compulsory,” al-Yasari says in the clip, continuing by advocating a return to a time when cinemas, theatres, alcohol and sports clubs were banned in the town.
Among other objects of his reproof are Valentine’s Day celebrations, Christmas and “foreign music playing in the streets.”
The identity of Najaf, al-Yasari concludes, is “a respectful, Islamic one.”
Located about 160 kilometers to the south of Baghdad, Najaf holds the tomb of Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad and fourth Islamic Caliph. It is reportedly second only to Mecca and Medina in terms of Muslim pilgrim numbers.
“The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” commented Ola Akram sarcastically on Facebook. “The son of the governor who disrespected the constitution, and made it illegal for women to enter Najaf without hijab. But drugs are fine because [they help with Shia religious rituals].”
Hamza Fadel added: “He talks about the sanctity of Najaf, and has banned theatrical performances and the Iraqi symphony from doing a show at the Palace of Culture. Then it turns out his son is a drug dealer. Oh I hate shallow political Islam…”
Al-Yasari is from the Dawa party, the main party in Iraq’s ruling coalition.
He responded to the news in a message on his official Facebook page, indicating his support for the implementation of the rule of law “without exception.” The governor also added his “astonishment” at “media exaggeration” of the story, claiming political intent ahead of upcoming elections.
With nearly 500 “amused” responses on the post, however, it seems that Iraqis do not have a great deal of sympathy for him.
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