Monday, January 29, 2007

Shiite Flagellation & Heavy Metal

10th Muharram is the biggest day ever for Shiite religion, more so important than the two holy Eids, more important than prayer, more important than pilgrmige, it is the most important day ever. The day Hussein was killed in Karbala, some 1400 years ago. Here are some widespread practices during this day:

Maseer (March) Shiite pilgrims walk from everywhere towards Karbala, in a symbolic cememoration of Hussein's march towards that accursed city with 74 of his family and women and children(why?) to meet the Umayyad army. While this practice was present in individual patterns, it did not become widely adopted until 1970.

Flagellation At its most extreme, Shi'ism rituals can be as severe and ominous as any Opus Dei around - Flagellation or Latum is the beating of chests in unison to the rhythm of a sung verse by a radood, a person who recites a poem usually about the death of a Shiite religious figure, be it Ali, Fatima, Hussein, Zainab, Abbas and even recently, the destruction of the reverred Askari shrines in Samarra. The beating of chest is a traditional Arab way of showing grief, mostly performed by women.

Tatbeer or (head-splitting) This practice is derived from the way Imam Ali was killed, while he was praying dawn when a person called Bin Muljim killed him by a sword which hit his forehead. As a form of solidarity and remembrance, a mutabir brings a sword to his forehead and gently stabs with the wide sheath of the sword - blood usually spurts in great lengths, eventually covering the whole person in blood, it is one of the most controversial and sickening practices, and has been introduced by a Turkish brigade coming from the Kaukaz.

Tashbeeh or Re-enactment Those are convoys which re-enact the battle of al-Taff with great detail, from the beginning of the battle until the decapitation of Imam Hussein. This was imported from Iran at the end of the 18th century.

All these practices above are considered the most iconic, graphic representations of Shi'ism today. In particular the flagellation, Most religious Shia scholars condemn all these acts, but all their edicts against them have been met with disapproval and rejection, and sometimes even anger. Religion sometimes opposes thinking, and as the majority of Shiites in Iraq are common and poor, they oppose rationalization and follow only emotion, and consider this as an unthinkable practice that may be for some people the most important, and basically the nutshell, of religion, to try and shed the most tears in hope of getting the intercession of the holy figure they are mourning. The scholars had to grudgingly accept this, a scholar once said: 'The truth of Islam has been lost between the Sunni and Shi'ite scholars, Sunnis followed the whims of the ruler, and Shiites followed the whims of the people." There are also other reasons for this complete disobedience, The Ashura ceremonies is a massive group-activity that invokes feelings of strength and identity, it is the only purely Shia activity to be practiced on such a massive scale, and anything against it will fall on deaf ears. This is why Shiite political factions greatly pushed this exercise after post-Saddam war, despite the unfortuante result of so many people being exposed as an easy prey for any would-be malignant force, despite repeated terrorist attacks which killed many people in 2003 and 2004, Shiites politicians have stubbornly pushed people to practice them, as if Shi'ism is all about this - a foolish show of defiance. Also, a whole trade has been created around these practices, it is interesting to notice that most of the people who actually perform those flagellations and tatbeers are from the dregs of society and the lowest of lows, and have nothing to do whatsoever with religion. It's more about identity and the ominous flair of the processions.

Today, religion is all about big show, most of Iraqis (and Arabs) are not traditional Muslims in the sense, most of them think about sex more often than God.

Admittedly, those processions are somewhat exotic in their own way, any serious fan of violent, angry music should give Shia latmiyas a go, once you get past all that initial disgust and bypass all religious identification, try to look at it as you would look at Greek mythologies or read the Odysseus. It's got plenty of cool stuff: a plethora of sad, dark melodies ; hordes of epic battles between Good and Evil, with Evil always victorious - and also, it sends shivers down one's spine when you remember that the only musical instrument being used, the oddly time-signatured precussion is made by thousand hands beating down a thousand chests. Look at this frightening verse from a latmiya about the death of Imam Ali:

and you are Death, on the day of Death, when Death
obeys your every wish and command.
Everyone who would hear of your tales
would tremble in fear, of your presence


The most famous Shia performer is undoubtedly superstar Bassim al-Karbalie, I think he is one of the best performers I've ever heard - his poems greatly use a tool which Western Music could only dream of having: the quarter-note.

Blood, violence, darkness, epic battles, long-hidden secrets. Screw Maiden, man! Of course, it's kinda frightening that some people actually believe this shit, but then again, what more could you possibly want?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Iraq In Fragments

I have had the pleasant opportunity to watch two Iraq documentaries made by James Longley, one of them, the 60-minute Iraq In Fragments, won several awards, including the Sundance Best Doc 2006 as well as being sidelined for Oscar, it's shot in the three major 'fragments' of Iraq, Sunni center, Shia south and Kurdish north, in the 2003-2004 period, the second documentary is much less shorter, at 21 minutes, which follows the story of a countryside mother which tries to find consolation for her small HIV-infected child, called Sari's Mother.

Iraq In Fragments (watch trailer here)
As a budding filmmaker myself, the first thing that struck me about this film was its sense of beauty and detail. Kurt Vonnegut said: 'The main objective of artists is to make fellow human beings appreciate being alive at least a bit more.", and when I gaze at these dirty, commoplace streets and signs that I never once batted an eye against while I was living there, I am genuinely delighted by the way Longley treats them, with care and beauty, it makes you feel significant to have been part of it. Director James Longley certainly has an eye for detail, and this documentary is chock-full of emphasis on poetic scenery, rather than becoming one of those docus whose most important objective is facts, often using people as nothing more than talking heasd, this documentary addresses a very important problem in the current coverage of Iraqi war: personalization of the Iraqis, something which have baffled and annoyed me for quite some time, the world must know that those "10 people killed" who appear everyday on the newsticker were once living, breathing humans who had stories, mothers, daughters, ambitions and dreams behind them. We are humans in as much as you are.

The documentary starts in Baghdad, in a ghetto area near Sheikh Abdul-Kadir al-Gilani, an important Sunni shrine, it follows 11-year-old Mohammed, a fatherless boy who works as a shop assistant in a dirty car-repair shop. His story is nothing special, as he treks around the few places which form his environment: his school, shop and home, but it is also the most fascinating part of the documentary. Before I watched the documentary, I read James Langely saying on his website that Mohammed was chosen partly because he had a 'Dickensian' quality about him. I was skeptical about this, but the description doesn't do justice enough to Mohammed. This unlikely hero, a thin, dirty, downtrodden existence whose most striking feature are unescapable eyes - forever locked in a state of inner sadness that greatly expresses what his broken, three-word sentences cannot. Mohammed is a convenient and true allegory for the way most Iraqis feel. The relationship he shares with the shopowner, who sometimes cuddles him but often hits and curses him, is realistic and emotional, and is a great deal more interesting than the later alcohol raid alongside Mahdi's army milita, for example.

The second part treks with Aws al-Khafaji, Muqtada al-Sadr's representative in Nassriya during 2003-2004, it alternates between ominous Shiiite Latmiyas (flagellation) processions, one brilliant shot is of al-Khafaji overlooking the processions beating his chest in silence, and official meetings and conferences, Sadr himself appears in two conferences, as well as rival Ammar al-Hakim, greeting protestors during the march against the death of his uncle in Najaf. al-Khafaji is a a very predictable result of his environment, while his organization is a rigid one that has caused more harm in Iraq than most, you cannot help but sympathisize with him in the same way some people sympathized with Saddam Hussein, the contrast between Sadr's meancing, boorish presence and al-Khafaji is striking, al-Khafaji looks like a kind, frail person who has been whipped up by the years of torment and violence that plagued Iraq, despite their savageness - they are still Iraqis, and one cannot help but recoil in regret as to why did it have to go so wrong. This part is not as immeidate as the first one, but it does contain some interesting incidents, like the alcohol raid by the Mahdi's Army on Nassriya's market. The filmmaker actually accompanies them throughout the whole raid. After the raid, the militamen recite the Ta'jeel supplication, which had hit international news after they used it during Saddam's execution.

The third part is filmed in Kurdish Sulaymaniya, in a rural outskirt with a farmer and his children, the Kurds have no holdbacks on how they see Iraq:
"Three pieces, Sunnis, Shias and Kurds - blood has been spilled between us, and that's why we can never be united again."

In reality, those people are not very much different than the rest of the hungry, poor, backward masses of Iraq - they are also very religious, but the ethnticity is more important than the religion, you can feel how anxious they are for their future. It is also the most uninteresting part of the documentary, but it is important in showing the differences between the Kurdish north and the rest of the country.

However, I must say that I felt extremely affected by the enchanting 21-min Sari's Mother. Almost ancedotal in comparison, but compact and concise - an epic of quiet, but ever so deadly, desperation. At least as visually astonishing as the first and with the same focus on beautiful personalization, Sari's Mother is a profound, interesting and greatly moving tale of a mother who finds all doors locked up in front of her and a wonderful, smiling boy who will not be alive in a few months...tears welled up as I finished it.

The documentaries show Iraqis as mostly poor, confused people and the Americans are often depicted as aliens, shot from faraway cuddled in their convoys, which is exactly how people see them...from a political slant, the documentaries imply that all the mishap has been waylaid by the American occupation, I think this statement is half-true, as Iraqis themselves have played a great deal in the destruction of the country, the documentaries does not reveal any secrets or construct anything politically significant, it is a mere look at normal Iraqis going about their lives, but all in all, these two documentaries are important for anyone who wants to understand why are these Iraqis not so grateful for being liberated from Saddam Hussein. Go see them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

7 Taxis: Examinations Into Society

The first taxi I rode was on 10:45 AM. He was mostly silent, the only conversation we had was:

"Directly to the university?"
"Mighty cold, don't you think."


The second taxi I rode was on 11:10 AM. He was an old man with a knack of interfering in everything. I am with my grandmother, she wants to buy something from a poor person who sells calendars at the traffic stop.

Me : "That's expensive."
Granny : "Well, he is standing on God's door." (meaning he's really poor)
Driver: "Yes. Sure there are those people who will trick you instantly upon knowning that you are Iraqi, but this guy like the hajja here says is on God's door."
Me : "Yea."
Driver: "Poor thing, he stands there all day trying to make a living, and then they come and bust him, while the real thieves in the suits and the houses, and nobody does a thing to them."
Me: "They bust him because they can..."
I explain to him the intricate crime/begging network in Iraq.
Driver: "You know, what is happening to Iraq is that, there is a lot of money and hence everybody's fighting over it, and when a guy needs support, he coaxes all angry on Palestine."
Me : "You're right." This was an allusion to Saddam, clearly. Perhaps this guy is Jordanian, cuz usually Palestinains are gung-ho Saddamists.
Driver: "While in Palestine they are poor, they have nothing, they can't do anything."
Me : "I guess." That meant he was Palestinian. Weird.
He was a nice guy, insisted on driving us all the way to the door.

I dropped off my Grandmother at the embassy and went to do some errand at 11:15 AM, The third taxi driver was brooding, he was stone-chipped and wore a traditional Jordanian headdress like he needed to tell me something bad, but the conversation wasn't going where he wanted. We were talking about money.

Me: "But you know what I found out, money can buy everyone - there's no such thing as integrity in the world anymore."
Taxi Driver: "No such thing. My friend, are you Iraqi?"
"Those people you were saying are not all people, there are still people who are genuine, who will not give up their traditions." His accent was bedouin, which suggested something important about his origins.

A guy in a Land Cruiser was reversing his car nearby, the taxi driver took the chance and belted out what he really needed to say.

"Goddamm peasant thinks he's rich, those Palestinians, let me tell you about them - they shied away from their lands, sold it to the Israelis, like a bunch of faggots, and they come here coaxing like they got a lot of money. Son of a bitch - You were plowing farms all your look at me son when I tell you, these people can be sold at the whim, but the genuine article (it wasn't hard to know who he was referring to by that) keeps to his pricinples and traditions. They come in here with their fake phoney modern accents 'A'ollak' wu 'Ulu' and all that, while we talk in the genuine Arab tongue, like you Iraqis."

I just nodded.

"Look at my haircut, this is how we cut, but these Palestinains, see their haircuts, all standing and i don't know what (spikey, but he doesn't know how to say it), and their women, those are the women who wear tight and can be bought while their parents don't care, but our women, they are true religious and wear Islamic dress."

"Okay, I think so."

1:00 PM, The fourth taxi driver was resilient and silent. We both listened to a religious lecture about Umm al-Mo'mineen Hafsa, followed by Quranic recitations.

1:45 PM, The fifth was almost a re-thinking of the fourth, I continued to listen to the recitiation.

3:40 PM, The sixth was a bearded guy that screamed Islam. But he was easygoing and nice, this combination reminds me of my father's old friends, who have a favourable impression on my childhood.

Me: "So what do you think about Iraq?"
Taxi: "When the fitna (tensions) spreads, it spreads, and everything in the end works for the benefit of the Americans."
Me: "That's not the real problem, if we were strong people, we wouldn't have been affected, what we need today is good examples and to lessen these tensions. these horrible tensions."
Taxi: "But what brings these tensions?"
Me: "The cruelty of the leaders."
Taxi: "Exactly."
Me: "Brtutality does not solve anything, that is an old lesson learned from the days of al-Hajjaj, isn't it? You see, most people here hate Shias, but they are still Muslims just like us. right?"
Taxi: "You are absolutely correct." This was very unusual. It was my stop.

I tipped him extra.

11:30 PM, The seventh guy kept silent in a scary way, he's ask brief questions ominously that seemed to be going badly.

"My brother is Iraqi...?"
"Where from?"
"You're Shiite, I guess?"
"What? Why? No." This was surprising, he probably wanted to lull me into assurance, but he kinda failed as he was asking in a very unnatural, careful way.
"I just hear stuff about Baghdad being Shiite."
"It will be soon."
"Yeah, Shiites took it now."
"Yeah, Shiites."
"So I wanna know if that guy is Shiite or not, how will I?"
"Various things, name, dress, can't know unless u'r Iraqi."
"So, how many Sunnis are there in Iraq?"
"about 15-20%"
I was very sick of this by now. His talk rekindled memories of the taxi drivers in Iraq.
"May God curse the Shiiites, you know how I know when a guy is Shiite, when he starts telling me : There's no differnece, we're all Iraqis - we're all united."
"But you should's somewhat....true, even if they have some mistakes, they are still Muslims, you because you have not lived with any all your life, you think know..err...this sort of thinking is what crippled Iraq my friend."
"Yeah." He retorted, probably thinking I'm Shiite after all.

I walked out with a bad taste in my mouth, all I wanted to do was bust his head on the windshield, but I have a nature of being prudent with taxi drivers, something one learns from Iraq. I hated myself because I could not do anything about it. I am wary of all this hate, of all this name-calling when everyone is to blame.

I promise you, that on the next taxi fare, I won't shut up.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ali's Illiad

July, 2006
El Mawardi Cafe, al-Rabiya

I was meeting my friend Rami for the first time since he relocated to Jordan since 2005, he has brought his friend, Mohammed, with him. Mohammed is a very pleasent, good-natured kid, he's three years younger than both of us, and he's a Shiite. Rami is also a Shiite, but his mother is a Sunni. After a pleasant introduction and a slew of jokes to break the ice, I asked Mohammed why did he move to Jordan. This is what he said:

My father, Ali, runs a contracting firm in al-Harthiya district in Baghdad. Six months ago, masked gunmen broke into his firm, beat my father until he was unconscious, then took him and dumped him in the trunk, and rode father woke up shortly thereafter, and the first thing he did was empty his pocket of all the business cards of foreign firms. After a long and bumpy ride, the gunmen took my father and threw him in an empty room in a deserted, dirty house. They accused him of working with the crusading occupation.

The gunmen called on Mohammed's family, and demanded a big chunk of money as ransom (I can't remember the exact amount, but it was impossible), they wanted it in two days notice or his father will be beheaded.
Those two days were, needless to say, frantic. In between sits with his mother, his uncles and cousins, and selling everything they can get their hands on...Mohammed's family managed to obtain the desired sum.

As for his father, the Mujahideen said to him: You shall spend the day alone, tomorrow the Emir will come and decide what your fate shall be.
and with these words, they left. and Ali slept.

With the fact that Ali's father deals with foreign firms (Mohammed didn't say exactly what was the type of business) and his Shi'ism, there was little chance that the Emir will persuaded to understand the concept of mercy in this case. Also bear in mind that back in 2005, sectarain killings weren't as audacious as they were today, they were usually veiled in ransoms.

Sometime after that, Ali's father woke up, alone. After a time of defeated idleness...Ali decided that he will not go down without a fight, he tried with all his might to do something about the rope that ties his hands...after much wriggling, the rope somewhat let loose and he was freed - after a brief euphoria, Ali realized that nothing much has been achieved, perhaps the Mujahideen didn't care much about tying him up, because the room was locked and there was only a small, high window that will not provide exit to anything but a cat.

So this is how it ends, huh?

Ali's father looked around, gave up and cried...

Is there a God? the question was posed for centuries past, but in this particular case, I strongly think so.

As as footnote, Ali's father decided to feel the bricks in the wall, which was unpainted. Lucklily, one brick was loose...Ali's father did all what he can to further pull the brick out of way, after much work and effort, he did pull it out, and used it to destory the adjacent bricks.

Half an hour later, Ali's father went out in the open like a madman who has never seen the sun...the area in which he was was semi-barren, he went running into the middle of the desert, people who were in the area fled, and as he was crying for help from a pick-up truck, the driver alarmingly drove away, Ali's father collapsed in the middle of the street.

10 minutes later, however, the pick-up truck returned, carried Ali, and provided water and food for him. He drove him down into Ramadi, found a way for him to get into Baghdad, and wished him well with these words: "This is just you know that not everyone in Ramadi are bad people. I bid you farewell."

Ali's father returned late that day, the next morning, Mohammed and his uncles were supposed to hand a briefcase filled with cash to the Mujahideen in exchange for Ali's safety.

They were sitting dead silent when Ali's father came banging on the door....his mother cried again, but this time it was tears of joy.

The next day, Mohammed, his father Ali, his mother and his siters were on the road leading to Ramadi again, but this time they weren't stopping until they reach all the way to Amman, Jordan.

NOTE: The father's real name is not Ali, in the previous story, the boy was actually named Omar. I am recounting the story from my memory, so several details may be missing.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Omar's Oddyssey

This is a translation of the Arabic posted a week ago

In the past, I didn't want to leave Iraq - earlier to February 2006, life was difficult, but in a way, Iraqis got used to it, after my friends were killed, it took on a whole new meaning, and two days after the last friend passed to the world beyond, I heard this story, it was all I needed to know that there is no life for me here anymore.

Had this story told by anyone other than a guy that I know won't talk crap to me, I would have immediately called it off as typical Iraqi exaggeration one way or the other, Omar may have exaggerted as some point or the other - as it simply involves pretty much everything and everyone you see on TV - and much, much more! You are probably so bored of individual Iraqi death stories by now but this one simply crosses the Rambo line.

WARNING: This story has a happy ending.


An oddyssey normally refers to the mythical trip undertaken by Odysseus in ancient Greek literature, where he encounters strange beings and nameless creatures on his way back home. The following real-life story has been narrated to me by a friend of mine, Omar, one hot morning in Baghdad, and if it doesn't qualify as an honest-to-Homer Oddyssey, I don't know what does.
Omar is my Kia driver, he is my age, but have dropped out of high school midway through and started a carrier as a plumber, before buying a Kia and starting this 'line'. He is mentioned earlier in my blog, in this post. Omar is a streetwise kind of guy, but in the same time he is such a sweet lad, despite his constant swearing and sun-burned tan that suggests back-alleys, his green eyes betary a niceity which I have seen very little of these days.
One day, Omar's mother, his sisters, and two younger brothers (one born 1987, the other 1990) were all taking a taxicab from now-infamous Adhamiya, unfortunately, the taxi dude turned out to be a chewer, (i.e. a person who's connected to a criminal organization one way or the other, the traditional menaing of chewer indicates the middle man between regular people eligible for kidnap and murder, and the interested gangs) The Chewer delievered them to their Grandfather's house safe, but, perhaps on knowning that they are Sunni in someway, or perhaps of something they might have said, the guy returned with 3 pick-up trucks, broke the door and took the two boys away.
Omar wasn't around at the time, his mother called him weeping and sobbing, after knowning what has occured, he hurried back home, took a Shiite friend of his, who we shall call Salim, and went as fast as he could to an area in Baghdad now known as The Presidential, where a Sadr office is located. By the time he undertook this quest, the time was 9:00 pm, way past the curfew, he was stopped by several checkpoints, frenzily explaining his story he would be let go by the soldiers, at one point he asked them for help, but whenver the words 'militia' was heard, faces would recoil in fear and he would just be let through.
Upon reaching the presidential area, Omar lost his grip and his friend Salim took over driving, the area was barren and empty, like all of Baghdad, after roaming around for a few blocks lost they found a drunk guy, who answered in a drunk, overconfident "Hell, yeah! Sure I know where the office is!!!" They picked him up, and despite his drunk incongruence, he sure knew where the office is. However, The office was just as desolate and unhospitable as everything else is.
At this particular moment, Omar's frustration bubbled to the surface, and he let loose in massive frantic that cursed all the Shiites on the face of the earth, he kept on screaming, yelling and shouting until the glorious pick-up trucks came back to the office, and beat them inside it. Omar and Salim took a few cables, but the militiamen beat the shit out of the drunk guy, while on duty, in sync with the religious ideology of the Mahdi's army - they assume a very hostile tone to alcohol. That done, Omar and Salim were separated for questioning.

-What's your name?
-Omar. he gave that up, cuz they already looked in his ID
-You Sunni or Shiite?
-Shiite (cable slashes across his body)
-Don't talk shit to me now.
-What brought you here?

Omar told him his whole story, the tale was filled with joyful intermissions exercised by the investigator on Omar's thin, frail body. After the investigator got tired, they brought Salim, who looked like he's been treated with a similar reception, and then shortly afterwards came the Sayyid.
Sayyid is the 'religious authority' in the office, he's the guy with the turban, all militiamen cowered in respect, he asked the two about their names, and then quickly issued his verdict. "Those people are terrorists, go to Sadda and kill them very well."

Man: What is your name?
Omar's youngest bro: Mazin
Man: Are you a Salafi (Wahhabi)?
Mazin : No.
Man: Do you love Ali?
Mazin: Yes.
Man: Curse Omar.
Mazin: (curses Omar)
Man: Tell me what you know about the 'brave resistance'?
Mazin: I don't know anything....
(Man falls with a sledgehammer deep on Mazin's fingernails....a horrible shriek comes from Mazin, as broken nails are driven deep inside his own flesh in a mess of blood.)
Man (laughing): Good. The Mujahideen has taught you not to speak.

Afterwards, Mazin has heard the name of that man, when Omar told it to me, it was the first time I ever heard of it, but I would hear it countless and countless times after that.
The man's name was Abu Dera'.

The executioner took the two unfortunate men and hurled them inside Omar's own minivan (Kia), they were blindfolded, he switched the ignition, and the car was filled with Hussam al-Russam's Iraqi party music, he quickly turned it off and murmuered in anger, and the car now headed to Sadda. Sadda is an area in Sadr City that serves as the execution ground for the Mahdi's army, Omar has now gone from crumbling despair through unflinching anger into silent oblivion. But his friend Salim kept talking to the man every now and then.

-Sir, where are we going.
-How long yet?
-Soon. ...
-Sir, are you going to kill us?
- ....

The sir didn't answer, and his silence soon grew until it horribly engulfed the whole car, Omar became certain of his destiny at that moment, and he began reciting the Shahadas (couplets recited by Muslims upon death) as quickly and repeatedly as possible, he said that all he was thinking about at that particulalr moment of time was how his mother has wound up with losing all her sons together, he just wanted to have once last chance to see her and tell her goodbye.
The car reached the Saddah, the man descended and took the two silent boys to the ground, he took his gun out, reloaded....and then his mobile rang out. The caller ordered the man to stop the execution but continue routine investigation. It seems that Salim's father has connections, and his connections worked at just the right time.

As I told Omar, and as Iraqis normally would say, Omar has "the luck of bitches."
They were transferred from in various cars afterwards, until finally reaching an air-conditioned prison, the drunk man was reinstated in the shithouse, though.
After a merciful investigation that didn't involve attempts to connect coaxial cables with Omar's asshole, a man came smiling sociably and said: "Amoori, we apologize, you're free to go."
"What about my brothers?"
"They are doing well and alive in Sadr City. Don't worry, they will return soon."

For the first time that night, Omar exhaled.


Omar and Salim came out at 3 AM, like wet dogs in the rain, they rode Omar's Kia and proceeded down the road, but no sooner than they had crossed a few blocks that a swarm of bullets was being fired at them by local generator guards who mistook them for thieves. Omar pointed to the side of his Kia and sure enough, a nice line of holes decorated the side of the dark purple van. After they were well out of the way, they were met by, lo and behold, the old bandits of the streets! the average carjackers...four Opels flashed their headlights in the distance before Omar managed to use his experience as a Kia driver and dodge them around some side-streets, eventually ditching the car in some dump and spending the night at a friend's house.

Omar arrived in his house in Adhamiya the next day, to find that 2 brothers have already arrived before him, the older one wasn't tortured much, they only used his face as an ashtray, putting them out on his mouth, cheeks, nose and eyelids....but the youngest.....

the youngest was another story, a horror story, Abu Der'a's sledgehammer has made good memories out of his fingernails, and had transformed his knee-joints "Soaps, in Arabic" into actual soaps. His back was filled with light drill marks here and there....and whatever was left of him was filled with all sorts of mischief. He was immediately transported to Adhamiya's major hospital, al-Numan.

By noon, Omar's modest household was filled with all sorts of people - family relatives, friends and other people....soon, a group of men who Omar described as "al-Mujahideen" came smiling and tender, Omar's voice beamed with pride as he talked of the way one of them, upon wrapping up their diplomatic mission, swore to Omar that they'd make them pay back by 'hijacking a bus of Shiites.'


"But, but, is that right?" I said to Omar in a low voice that came from the depths of some unrealistic pool that felt like an obligation, a laughable imitation of the corny, fake stuff they put on television.

"You're right, sure sure...I even told them so..." Omar's voice was just as dead.

NOTE: This story is happy, because nobody is killed - that's how far can a story be considered 'happy' in Iraq.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Even when he's dead...he kills people


From DNAINDIA: MULTAN (Pakistan): A young boy who tried to imitate hanging scenes from the execution video of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein died in central Pakistan, police said on Monday.

Mubashar Ali, 9, hanged himself, while re-enacting Hussein's hanging with the help of elder sister, 10, after tying a rope to a ceiling fan and his neck in his home in Rahim Yar Khan district on Sunday, a local police official said.

The father of the deceased boy said that his children had been watching the video of Saddam Hussein's execution on television and attempted to imitate the hanging as other family members thought they were playing in another room.

"My wife and sister rushed to rescue Mubashar when children cried for help from the adjoining room, but he died due to hanging," Alamgir Paracha, father of Mubashar, said.

Police said the death was accidental and a case of parental negligence.

"It was an accident which happened due to carelessness of parents," district police chief Sultan Ahmad said.

Images of the fallen Iraqi dictator with a noose around his neck, surrounded by executioners in balaclavas, were repeatedly telecast by Pakistani television channels at the weekend.

Commentators and the media across Europe had expressed shock and unease Sunday at graphic television pictures showing the last moments of Hussein before his execution.

The stupidity of the governmnet has now turned Saddam into an underdog symbol of heroism, and when our country ceases to exist and the amoeba grows into nearby countries, expect the Guevara-style rebel t-shirts to sell. Although Majed came up with the idea, i call patenting!

Welcome 2007. May the next Eid brings the executions of the rest of the crew:

1. Abdilaziz al-Hakim
2. Muqtada al-Sadr
3. Harith al-Dhari
4. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi DEAD
5. Saddam Hussein DEAD
6. Baqir "Bayan" Jabr Solagh
7. Adnan al-Dulaymi (although i don't think he's worth much - just a fat cow full of farts, he's been put there so that I don't get accused of being sectarain.)
8. Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer