Mariwan Halabjaee or Mariwan Halabjayi (Kurdish:
مەریوان ھەڵەبجەیی,;[note 1] born 1 June 1963) is an Iraqi Kurdish writer, public speaker, and human rights activist. He is the author of sixteen books and producer of over ninety documentaries, covering topics on theology, psychology, and human rights. He is the author of the book Sex, Sharia and Women in the History of Islam (alternate title: Sex, Legislation and Women in Islamic History). The book gained international fame when published in 2005, and has since been reprinted eleven times and translated into Arabic, Persian, and Pashto for millions of readers. It is about how Islam and Sharia are allegedly used to oppress Muslim women. “I wanted to prove how oppressed women are in Islam and that they have no rights,” said Halabjaee. Halabjaee asserted the book was, “based on Islamic sources such as the Holy Quran, Muslim and Bukhari books[note 2] and many more.” Due to his controversial work, he is often referred to as “the Salman Rushdie of Iraqi Kurdistan”.
Halabjaee was reportedly forced to flee from Iraqi Kurdistan to Norway because the Islamic League of Kurdistan issued a “conditional” fatwa to kill him if he did not repent and apologize for writing his book. Halabjaee reported, “the mullahs and scholars said if I go to them and apologize they will give me 80 lashes and then refer me to the fatwa committee to decide if I am to be beheaded. They might forgive me, they might not.”
Halabjaee allegedly received telephone calls saying, “Now, in 10 years or 15 years, we will kill you.” Another time, Halabjaee reported, “the Islamists said once from the radio, if they found out where I was, they would blow themselves up with me.” “With that book I wanted to defend women but the first thing I did was hurt my wife,” said Halabjaee. As a result, Halabjaee went into hiding with his pregnant wife and three children.
Halabjaee fled Iraqi Kurdistan after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) allegedly refused to offer him any protection or to arrest those who threatened his life. “The Kurdish authorities have not provided any protection from threats and fatwas,” said Halabjaee, “any moment I am expecting a bullet or a hand grenade to be thrown into where I live.”
In response to the Halabjaee affair, the KRGMinister of Religious Issues, Dr. Mohammad Gaznayi, told protestors that according to the law of Iraqi Kurdistan, “defamation” or “criticizing” religion or religious figures is a crime and its punishment is severe. “We will give those who attack our prophets a sentence so that they can be a lesson for everyone,” said Dr. Gaznayi.[note 3] Halabjaee was in possession of a warrant for his arrest issued by the Suleimaniya police department when he fled Iraqi Kurdistan.
In August 2006, Halabjaee was granted political asylum in Norway.