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Q Sorry about that. Does the administration's goal -- I'll ask you about the Iraqi constitution. You said you're confident that it will honor the rights of women.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q If it's rooted in Islam, as it seems it will be, is that still -- is there still the possibility of honoring the rights of women?
THE PRESIDENT: I talked to Condi, and there is not -- as I understand it, the way the constitution is written is that women have got rights, inherent rights recognized in the constitution, and that the constitution talks about not "the religion," but "a religion." Twenty-five percent of the assembly is going to be women, which is a -- is embedded in the constitution.
Women's rights activists in
Iraq say rising extremism is restricting their freedom, even as the country prepares to vote on a constitution that is touted as one of the Arab world's most progressive regarding women.
"Women cannot walk freely out in the street," said activist Ban Jamil, who directs the Rasafa Branch of Assyrian Women Union, a local non-governmental organisation in Baghdad.
"Women face lack of respect when they walk uncovered," said Jamil, a Christian, who said women are insulted if they show too much skin or walk in public without wearing the Islamic veil, or hijab, to cover their hair.
She blamed "imported extremist doctrines, which were never experienced in the past" for the new restrictions.
The tide of Islamisation has risen in Iraq as fundamentalist Shiite parties have come to power following the ouster of former dictator