Iraq Women Wrestlers Spark Controversy

A new women's wrestling team in Diwaniya, Iraq, south of Baghdad, is sparking controversy with the countries more traditionally religious and conservative elements, causing four young women to quit the team, the New York Times reports. According to the report, most the girls have embraced their newfound position on Iraq's first ever women's wrestling team wholeheartedly, with hopes to compete at the Olympic level. According to Women's eNews, the event was first introduced to the Summer Olympics in 2004.

But there are many in this town south of Baghdad, which like much of Iraq is religious, conservative and governed largely by tribal tradition, who want the dozen girls and young women on the team to stop wrestling immediately. One tribesman has said they should be "slaughtered" if they continue. A Shia cleric says the team should be banned because wrestling can lead to promiscuity and "transgressions" against Islam.

... "They think we are loose girls because we play sports," said Ikram Hamid, 25. In fairness, it is not just female wre-stling that troubles traditionalists. "I have information that male wrestling is problematic, too, because of all the friction that goes on," said Sheik Hussein al-Khalidi, a cleric.

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