Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sabreen al-Janabi

I'm sure you've all heard about the 20-year-old Sabreen al-Janabi, a Sunni woman who said that had been raped by US-supported Iraqi soldiers during the ongoing Operation Law & Order, suprisingly, there hasn't been much activity regarding the topic on the Iraqi blogosphere, with the exception of the predictable post by Truth About Iraqis, and a rare appearance by superstar Riverbend.

Before I add my own opinion regarding the topic, here is a special treat, I have spent the better part of yesterday adding subtitles to the video and I have put it now live on YouTube here:

There has been much debate regarding those claims, it eventually boiled down to this headline: "Rape or Not, Depends on whether you're Sunni or Shiite", nobody bothers to examine the evidence, as everyone immediately reads every news item in his own particular agenda, the very dangerous essence of civil war.

First let us examine the evidence supporting the claim:

It is not unlikely for Iraqi soldiers to commit such acts, It is my own personal belief that Iraqi soldiers are usually worse than US soldiers, and it would be a typical and quite in-character act if they broke into a house and found a woman alone to rape her. The woman's story was detailed and it had emotion in it, when I first saw her, I found her convincing.

Nothing much to add above that.

But as I sat down to translate it, which makes me in direct contact with every sentence and every nuance, all the fishiness came in the way.

First, like dear Riverbend here would say, it is highly unusual for an Iraqi woman to appear on television and to tell a story of her own rape. It is an emotional hellride and it brings shame to the entire family and tribe, usually when a woman is raped, she is silent, ostracized and may be even killed by her own family to spare her of the shame, the matter is settled through tribal feuds and war. Riverbend goes on to expostulate that this exemplifies Sabreen's own personal bravery. But I beg to differ, first, the girl's accent is very countryside, and those people usually stick to the traditions I mentioned above, they don't think in such a way of exposing the truth live in front of millions of viewers, all they care about is to silence the matter. Sometimes they would hold public mourning ceremonies, as if she was actually dead. Had the girl been educated or civil maybe her and her family would have felt compelled to talk about it. But Sabreen not only told her story pubicly and on al-Jazeera, of all stations, she actually had the nerve to recount very graphic details of her rape without the expected emotionality - no self-respecting tradition-abiding parent-observing girl would talk about her rape in the very graphic and vulgar way that she did, she literally said 'he grabbed my tit' without any difficulty, and then she said what can be loosely translated as something the feel of 'I'm not one of them bitches'. No woman would talk like this in front of her parents, let alone the world. I myself woud probably kill my sister if she talked like this, well not kill, but you get the emotion. Third, the timing of the rape seemed very controversial, right in the middle of the security plan, the claim could be bolstered if one knows that Sabreen al-Janabi's father have links with al-Qaeda, check out this news item.

I thought that al-Maliki's reaction was somewhat fishy as well, had it been outright denial it would've reminded me of the way Baqir Solagh denied the Badr Corps out-in-the-open crimes and is something the diplomacy of our Iraqi government is made of, had the rape actually occured, why would al-Maliki deny it and bring to himself a whole extra mess of troubles, and on top of that reward the rapists? The fact is that he didn't deny it at first, the initial statement seemed intent on finding those responsible and having maximum penalites inflicted upon them, al-Maliki was trying to send the message that he knows such things could happen and that his soldiers aren't the stuff of angels, something Riverbend/TAI neglected to mention.

Rape is common, and what it occurs, the family distance itself from the woman, especially if they are a traditional family, it is very rare that you would hear of a story of a woman raped, and when it does get out in the open, the family is not very intent on talking about it everywhere, for instance, here is a 22-year-old Christian woman, Luana, whose story is almost identical to Sabreen, she is Christian, she doesn't hold necessary those severe traditions regarding rape, and yet even she wasn't so compelled to talk about it. All I heard of her was a small story on IraqiSlogger. The fact that she was Christian might also explain why nobody cared about her.

No, Sabreen's story is very fishy, her actions un-Iraqi, and her story is clearly orchestrated for maximum effect, check out the part where she says: 'I asked them why are chasing women? and he replies: This is mut3a', in my subtitles, I overlooked this and simply translated mut3a literally 'leisure', but the word has other connotations: Mut'a marriage is a controversial Shiite-only practice where a man and a woman have an Islamically-correct marrige that only lasts for hours or days, Sunnis regard this similar to people who want to commit adultery and finding a loophole in their Islam contract, anti-Shiite slanders are for example: The Son of Mut3a. Her metnion of the word reminded me of the huge clearly false allegations over a fake Muqtada al-Sadr statement about a group of women who want to have group mut3a with Mahdi Army fighters in Shiite mosques so that they be 'zealous for killing Sunnis'.

Give me a break!
and as usual the Arab nation did the usual uproar, Adnan al-Dulaymi trembled like a teapot, Mish'aan al-Juboori re-broadcast the clip 25/7, and the media war rages on and on.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Iraqi Jokes

Ever since I read Isaac Asimov's short-story Jokester about the origins of jokes, I've always harbored an obscurely academic fascination with the circumstances surrounding jokes. This article will try to discuss how jokes against various ethnic/sectarain denominations have developed and evolved through the course of years.

The major targets in an Iraqi joke are (arranged by popularity):

1. Kurds (Before I was born)
2. Dulaymis (1999 - present)
3. Shroogis (60s - present)
4. Maslawis (??)
5. Nassiriya (??)
6. Sectarain (??? but heightned after 2006)

Let us start with sectarain jokes since that is the hot stuff nowadays, first, the sectarain jokes are not popular due to the way Iraqi society is made up, to even mention sects was usually an insult frowned upon in many circles, and it was not until post-US invasion that the words 'Sunni' and 'Shiite' have slipped out of the Pandora's Box that is Iraq unto the common everyday kitchen be it in Iraq or the Middle East. But why are sectarain jokes offensive and the widespread jokes against Kurds not? That is not to say that jokes against Kurds are not offensive, but I think that it's because sectarain jokes directly touch religion, always a bad subject to make fun of in the Middle East. In Shi'ism for example, it is commendable to insult, curse or make fun of certain Islamic figures who are, hey presto, lauded as the highest of the high in Sunni Islam. This paradox renders many jokes into a hostile light unparralleled by a joke making fun of Kurds, Maslawis, or Dulayms which simply mock fallible human traits like slowness or cheapness, as those recipients would usually grin sociably when said jokes are being made. Sectarain jokes do not make fun of those traits, and since they are only circulated in closed circles, they are usually very offensive and unfunny.

What often annoys me is that Western audiences think that the Middle Eastern society is actually Islamic in look and in spirit, this is a far cry from the truth, Middle Eastern societies are largely hypocritical in nature. The majority do not follow religious lines of living but they respect it in a nominal way, it's more like: 'Yes let's do the sexy dance, but let's keep it a secret.' I have heard many jokes against Allah and Islam and when they are said they are often met with great joy. An anti-Shiite joke targeting religious figures is hugely offensive in Sunni communities as well, but that doesn't mean they don't exist - After the 1991 Shiite revolution, the effective Baathist propaganda began releasing anti-Shiite jokes that directly insult highly venerated figures in both Sunni and Shiite traditions, these jokes have the qualities of a bully, not particularly clever and downright mean and cruel, for example this sums up a perfectly Baathist-style joke:

"Allah and Mohammed were playing marbles, and then Ali came, the two immediately screamed: Ahoooooo, here comes the cheater!"

Here's another one that's even more mean:

"A Sunni man married a Shiite woman, they agreed that he names the girls and she names the boys, they had three sons and sure enough she named them Ali, Hasan and Hussein. When the fourth child was a girl the man named her 'Bitch', when asked why, he said: 'So I can say: O Brothers of the Bitch! (Ya Khawat il Ka7ba, a popular Iraqi curseword.)"

I have never, ever heard of a joke against Sunnis from any of my friends, such is the nature of our society. The only anti-Sunni jokes are know I have listened to from the Internet, here is one by Hassan Shahata, an Egyptian Azhar scholar who converted to Shi'ism. It tells a great deal that this joke was actually said in a mosque:

"On Judgement day, Abu Bakr and Omar were sentenced to hell as expected, but they went to the Prophet Mohammed who, ever the merciful, intercessed with Allah and Allah forgave them for urusping Ali's right and granted them into Paradise. After a while, Abu Bakr asked Omar: "I wonder what happened to our friends Khalid, al-Mughieera, and Sa'ad, what do you say if we go and take a look?", so Omar accepted, upon entering Hell, an Angel on guard said that Ali is the guardian of the gate and they must request a pass from him, so they went and Ali gave them the pass. The two saw and conversed with their friends and after a while got bored and wanted to leave, but to this Imam Ali said: 'Man, where do you think you're going? You have entered, but whoever said that you are going to leave?' "

The joke is not even funny, but it was met by uproarious laughter by the Shiites in the Qum mosque , as it basically supports all the credentials of their faith.

The jokes also can target Abu Haneefa, the most important Sunni shrine in Baghdad (in my old area Adhamiya), Shiites have a tradition of spitting on the direction of the grave when they pass him by, and they sometimes call him Abu Haneecha (a very rude Iraqi swearword, meaning fuck him)Here's an offline message I got from a Shiite friend in Najaf, it's in Arabic verse so it may not be :

'Abu Haneefa (May Allah be pleased with him) once said: O Hear ye, A man comes who hate me, and everyday he curses me, he shows you the Shidah (difficulty), and dump your bodies in Saddah, His eyes are sood (black), and he wears a tracksuit, brave and hard to enjira'a (swallow), his name is Abu Diraa, the signs of this warta (catastrophe), the emergence of a batta (car used by gunmen often, a Toyota Corona).

Here is a joke circa 2004 that involves Shiites, Sunnis and Americans:

"An American soldier was observing the Mahdi Army beating up people (this was when they weren't killing anybody yet) on the street, they watched as they cornered a man and was about to beat the shit out of him when he said: 'O by Ali's name let me go', on hearing this, the Mahdi folks let him go, the soldier thought this was a cultural Iraqi phrase and memorized it as it may come in handy. the next day he was transferred to Falluja, and wouldn't you know it, 30 minutes later he was at the mercy of the Mujahideen (insurgency), remembering the phrase, he said: 'O by Ali's name, let me go!', the Mujahideen looked at each other and said: 'Holy Cow! Not only is he an American infidel, but he's also a Shiite! BOOM BOOM BOOM."

Kurds: Kurds have always been picked upon, I do not know the political or social factors that led to this becuase it is so far back, before the Ba'ath regime came to existence.

1. They're not particularly exclusive to Iraqis, as Kurdish jokes delight comes from a humanly universal fact: stupidity.
2. It also use the word 'Kaka' a lot, which means 'brother' in Kurdish.

Guy: Kaka, Do you like bananas?
Kurd: Kaka, banana is delicious, but it has a very big seed.

A Kurd asked the hand of a girl, the father asked him: Do you smoke? He said: No, but sometimes when I get drunk with a couple of whores I smoke a little weed.

Here's how a moron joke is imported from another culture:
A Kurd saw a Marlboro ad and was so affected that he bought a horse

Some use present day movements to liven up an otherwise stale joke, such as:

How did Ansar al-Islam catch the pornographic film at the Kurdish guy's collection? He had put it in the sports section marked Brazil 1 - Sulaymaniya 5

Most of the Kurdish jokes today have developed to focus on the Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, partly because he himself have encouraged the notion by launching a self-mocking array of jokes whenever possible.

Here's a famous poem said by Jalal Talabani during an interview:

We got no cane, no mats, and no bardi
On top of all that, the president is Kurdi

Dulayms: Since 2000, Dulaymis replaced Kurds as the Iraqi comedian's favorite slowhead, Dulaym is one of the most important Sunni tribes in Iraq (it's also the tribe of Adnan al-Dulaymi, Sunni bloc head), there are various reasons as to why they were the target of soooo many jokes, but it is of little doubt that the Ba'ath regime was the prime instigator of these jokes, I once had a friend who was the son of a military intelligence member, and he was such a funny and charismatic personality that he could tell you joke after joke and you won't feel tired, one thing he said one day caught my attention: 'Man, we sell these jokes', the Ba'ath regime has a competent propaganda machine that steered something whenver they feel like it - the jokes were embraced by all Iraqis: Sunnis and Shiites at that time. Some say that the leader of the Dulaym tribes once rejected Saddam's cigar at a meeting, saying: This is not the time to smoke, and others mention the little known Dulaym revolution against Saddam which was started because of the butchery of a certain important Dulaymi tribesman by Saddam's henchmen (but that incident dates a little farther than 2000).

Dulaymi jokes are of all the same qualities as Kurdish jokes, stupidity and slowness is emphasised to a great degree - all Dulayms back then in our classroom were subject to all sorts of insults....

A Dulaymi said to his father: O father, I want her to be white and tall...his father brought him a 20-foot fridge.

Dulayms are playing chess, whenever a soldier dies they hold a 3-day mourning ritual.
Dulayms were playing chess, one said: Hey, I just killed your elephant...the other went out and then returned shortly saying proudly: And I poisoned all your cattle!
A Dulaym was asked by the teacher: Who was the prophet that spoke to animals? Dulaymi said: Prophet Tarazan (PBUH).

Why did the Kurds and Dulayms become extinct? Too many jokes.

Maslawis: Maslawis are people who hail from Mosul, they have a very unique accent that is closer to Syrian than Iraqi, and the jokes that target Maslawis are the same as, surprise, the ones targeting the Scots and Jews. CHEAP. I am a half-Maslawi, and I can tell you that Maslawis are actually pretty generous, the reasons behind this are also as ancient as the ones behind the Kurds.

How did the American soldier from his Apache know this house was a Maslawi's? He saw a handkerchief on the clothesline.

Why don't Maslawis go to hospitals? The door says 'PUSH'. (PUSH is the same word as PAY in Arabic.)

A Maslawi's father died. The ad ran: Father Dead, Car for Sale.

3. Shroogis: Shroogi literally means 'a person from the East', it distinctly refers to people coming from the southe-eastern governorate of Ammarah, when they started to drive in huge numbers in Baghdad during the 1960s, and currently they reside at Sadr City- but generally this refers to everyone who hails from the southern governorates, jokes targeting Shroogs naturally focus on their illiteracy, dirtiness and ignorance.

A Shroog took a urine analysis. The nurse said: Your urine is sugary, he said: and your shit is honey.

A Shroogi shepherd got married,after being silent for a while on the bed with his wife he decided to break the ice and said: "You wouldn't know about any good sheep around here, would you?"

After a while the Shroogi wanted to flirt with her he said: 'Do you see the moon?'
She said yeah, he said 'The smell of your armpits reach over there...'

A Shroogi called the police, angrily he mouthed: God Damn it, they stole the fuckin' steering wheel and dashboard of my car!!!! Five minutes later, he called again: Sorry guys, I was at the backseat.

4. Nassiriya: Nassiriya jokes are some of my favorites because they deal with the mischievious malignance of Nassiriay people, technically they are also Shroogis but all their jokes are different.

A Nassiriyan became the police officer, he changed the police code from 911 to 0983109343872321234.

A Nassiriyan Imam went to the institute for blind men, his lecture was 'The Joy of Sight.'

Three Nassiriyans agreed to rob a bank, the first to knock out the guards, the second to unlock the safe and the third to call the police.

A Nassiriyan went to see a movie, he found only one guy in the whole hall, he sat behind him and would say every once in a while: 'Please, sir, your head, I'm trying to watch.'

A guy died and went to the heavens, the first thing he saw was a giant tree , after asking a nearby angel, he knew that this tree represents the faith of mankind, a leaf fell, he asked what is this? the angel said: A guy in the USA named Jeffrey Thomas has just lost his faith in God. another leaf fell, he asked again, who is this? The angel said: A guy in Japan named Oi-Wun has just cursed God. A few minutes later, there was a giant rumble from the tree and a whole bunch of leaves came tumbling down...Panicked, the guy asked: What is this? The angel said: Electricity went down in Nassiriya and everybody cursed God.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sam Aziz vs Khalid Jarrar: Progressive vs Hardline

The Iraqi bloggers Google group, sadly like our absent blog-critic Semiramis says, has been reduced to another typical forum plagued with knock-knock jokes of all shapes and kinds (just who is this Irakien Rana anyway :) ?), however, I must say that I have found the first meaningful conversation just yesterday, when Sam Aziz posted a link to an interview with a Bahrini Shi'ite cleric called Dh'iaa al-Mossawi (translated):

If you don't have time to watch it, the man is the sort of a more tolerant, peaceful cleric with a somewhat universal vision of religious co-existence, he listens to classical music and he has pictures for Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King and Gandhi in his house, he says of the latter that we need to plant his 'genes' in the youth of Muslims, he refuses rhetoric such as the 'Jews, grandchildren of pigs and abes' stubbornly, and greatly criticises the backward ideological 'gallows' of current Islamic stagnation thought.

For people like Khalid Jarrar, a really nice guy but also a more traditional Islamist with all the predictable America, West and everything it stands for = Great Satan ideology, this was too much to bear, he replied in the thread that this guy was basically a wolf in sheep's clothing and that he's probably been in the West and is preaching a version of Islam for which America would love and is simply 'poison in the honey.'

I completely support al-Mossawi in every possible way, his black turban is the sort I would like to see, and sadly, isn't found or sold much lately - Islam is a great, great, great, great religion but unfortunately its people have greatly misunderstood it in every possible way, when we settled for being the greatest thing ever on the piece of earth, a mistake committed by Jews a looong time ago, we became content with what we are and we simply believe that everything our culture has is the be-all-end-all for humanity, again a common mistake - so that when Western culture came smacking us from our long slumber and took Palestine away, like all ideological losers in history we started to call everything they have as having Satanic connotations, that everything they do is a conspiracy and that we are always the poor people kicked around - True, we have been kicked around, but the major problem is not in them, it's in us - we need to admit our stupidity, arrogance and defeat and change our dirty, violent, stubborn youth into creative and understanding people that Islam needs to be built upon, we need more people like Dhi'aa al-Mossawi and Amro Khalid, those are the social reformists for which I have the greatest hope for and who I am betting on - lay down your weapons, we won't beat the Jews yesterday or in a million years if we keep on our hypocrisy, we must change ourselves first.

Look at the thread here, and tell us what do you think:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Iraqi Resistance and the US plan

Dear reader,

I'm gonna tell you something that all the Iraqis who pretend they're full of pride and shit don't tell you, every Iraqi who knows what's good for him wants the US military plan to happen - it's a known fact today that while US soldiers do occasionally rape 15-year-olds and add naked photos of our hairy butts to their family albums, they are still infintely more trustworthy than any Iraqi soldier from anywhere. When an American soldier knocks on your door for a search, you go 'oh thank god' but when Iraqis do the same, you are instantly on your toes. Forget about all those Iraqis and Arab bloggers who live outside or have never been in there recently, they don't know what it is like - Iraq is dead - we are living in a newfound, and very real, age of sect. The intellects and all the other deadbeats like you and me who do nothing but bitch about how Iraq is great and how we had a beautiful country before the war are having a hard time accepting this, but they're going to have to deal with it.
The American forces are the only forces that are to be relied upon in Iraq, as sloppy and careless as they are, because they don't have anything personal against Abu Haneefa or Musa al-Kadhim, I may have comitted national blasphemy by saying this, but it's 100% better to be honest than a nationalist hypocritical asswipe like most Arabs and Iraqis are. First step towards healing is diagnosis. I really hope they completely remove Sadr City and Adhamiya from the map.


Ahh, my age-old district. How much I loved you and how much today I come to despise you, for harboring all those Saddamists and criminals who masqueraded under the glorious name of resistance, yes I did support them but only because I was afraid of the Anees & Badr Corps.
The other day, during the same day when Zeyad's brother reported a death of his neighbor, I actually lost a relative, the holy rockets which have been blissfully directed by the Hidden Imam, may Allah hasten his alarm clock, has finally managed to kill my aunt's husband's brother. You wanna hear something funny?

He was a Shiite, 100% to the bone, and the only Shiite linegae in our honest-to-Abu Haneefa Sunni family.

How I got the news? I woke up at 7 AM the next day, my mother came and told me immediately....I have cried like crazy over my four dead friends, and I was very upset about the death of a number of people, but that day I glanced uninterestingly...and then I shrugged, I said: 'Serves him right. He should've went out of the hellhole a long time ago.'

The fact that I didn't even bother to write about it then gives you an idea of how much emotional I got all about it. Death is to us a fact of life - examine the beautiful irony in the previous sentence. How did I become like this? I have attained the languid unconsciousness of an assassin with all the insecrutiy and the tight-sealed anger sown deep down inside. I am ready to do atrocities without flipping an eyelid if you want me to. Maybe if I was stupid and immature I would've already been with the rest of em, carrying an AK-47 I don't know how to use correctly in front of our local mosque, praying very little and cursing very much while exchanging short semi-porno clips on my latest Nokia mobile. Glorious be my crusade nevertheless, for I am an Iraqi Resistance.

Here are some of my other news which I didn't care much to say :

About a month ago, another college friend of mine was near killed in a bus stop, he was riding a minivan heading towards a Shiite district, al-Jowadir, when the beloved Iraqi resistance came and showered everyone with the bullets of mercy, ending their pitiful existence as sheep waiting for the slaughter, the bullet has come for you, Nameer - but Nameer had a thick butt, and the bullets couldn't get through him - they tore through every non-critical part of his body but they left his heart, lungs, head and penis intact, so he could continue to live as a decent human-being - he did lose his left hand though, and he is a lefty.
As Borat would've said : "High Five!"...oops, sorry I forgot you don't have a hand anymore.

and also I forgot to mention the lovely incident of Ubada, another college friend of mine who is also a glorious resident in Adhamiya, and precisely at the Sifeena, home of the most glorious freedom fighters - this Ubada is a bearded guy with blue eyes who likes to frequent the mosques and distribute Sunni bloc Accordance Front fliers, and one day his pop tells him to go bring something from his auntie's empty house, as she was a smart woman and left Iraq about a few months ago, little did poor Ubada know, but the house was rigged by the beautiful Iraqi resistance in case the infidels come in to try and search it.

The limbs that were once Ubada were collected and buried at Abu Haneefa mosque, so long, martyr, too bad you didn't have any pussy in your short 21-years-old life while you were busy doing all that mosque touring, well, maybe in heaven with your 77,000 virgins.