Iraqi Students Arrested for Wearing Jeans

Iraqi students say arrested for wearing jeans (AP)

Students in the Shi’ite Muslim religious Iraqi city of Najaf said that police recently arrested and beat several of them for wearing jeans and having long hair. “They arrested us because of our hair and because we were wearing jeans,” said student Mohammed Jasim, adding that the arrests took place two weeks ago in the city, the spiritual heart of Iraq’s newly dominant Shi’ite majority. “They beat us in front of the people. Then they took us to their headquarters, beat us again, shaved our heads and tore our clothes. “When we asked what we had done, they said that we had no honor,” he told Reuters this week.

Police in Najaf, a conservative city that some residents say has grown more so since Saddam Hussein was overthrown two years ago and religious Shi’ites gained greater power in Iraq, disputed the students’ version of events. “We didn’t oppress any freedoms. We detained them for a while and after we knew that they were students, we released them after they pledged they wouldn’t do it again,” Colonel Najah Yasir told Reuters.

Yasir commands the Tho Alfakar Brigade, a unit whose name refers to Imam Ali, son-in-law of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad, whose shrine is the centerpiece of Najaf. Yasir said the brigade had received complaints from locals in the old part of Najaf that young men were gathering in the streets and acting “improperly.” He declined to elaborate on their “improper acts.”

One hopes that the “improper acts” went beyond the wearing of jeans or that the teens are exaggerating their treatment. Taliban style oppression is hardly a “democracy” worth fighting for.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jim Henley says:

    we released them after they pledged they wouldn’t do it again

    After they wouldn’t do what again?

  2. Anderson says:

    This reminds me of the classic statement of Western freedoms by a student in my freshman Comp Gov’t class (1987):

    “We have blue jeans, and we can leave when we want to.”