Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Iraq: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime
NEWS OF THE DAY. First up, here's a link to a bit of TV reportage that's not to be missed.
A MOVING VOICE. And now for the sublime. There's an Iraqi blogsite called The Mesopotamian which should probably be required reading for all who care about the plight of Saddam's former subjects. The most recent entry is a cry of anguish for the Russian children butchered by terrorists. There's another congratulating the Americans for their dominating performance in the Olympics. The post I found most astonishing, however, is quoted in full below. It's a response to the situation in Najaf, but it reads like poetry. To my western-educated ears, the lines are reminiscent of ancient Anglo-Saxon works such as The Wanderer and The Battle of Maldon. I mean no ethnic slur; I am merely responding to the power of simple words delivered in a strong, rhythmic cadence. The piece begs to be read aloud. The author's notes suggest that the author writes in Arabic and has a friend translate the text to English. I must therefore imagine that his words are even more eloquent in his native tongue. Still, the English version is good enough for me. See what you think.
Who are the desecrators of the holy shrine and who are the defenders? Who are the aggressors and who are the saviors? Who will hear the real voice of the people of Najaf? - The poor crucified people of Najaf. Does anybody really know what is happening in that ravaged city? Does anybody know that poor families, old men, women and children, are dying in their houses of thirst and hunger in that poor old city, not to mention the bombs and bullets? Does anybody know that the sickening stench of death is filling the air of the narrow side alleys and old antique quarters of that most ancient and venerable town of learning that has always been affluent and flourishing throughout the ages. Yes, friends, the poor people have nowhere to go, they simply die in their houses in the old city. A human tragedy of fearful proportion is taking place now and in these hours that I am writing these lines.
Those occupying and desecrating the holy shrine are almost all completely alien to the city and with faces unseen before by the real locals. Some are not even Iraqi and do not even speak the Arabic language. I tell you this is the truth. Vicious aliens, whether foreigners or criminals and thugs from other provinces, have invaded the great Imams’ resting place. Heinous crimes have been perpetrated against the Najaf people including murder, mutilation, kidnapping and arrest of ordinary people policemen and religious leaders; and please note that this was not done by the Americans, or by the IP or the IDC. That is the truth as God is my witness. Just today, a most venerable religious scholar “Sayed Mahdi Al Hakim” who had been a guest in Saddam Prisons for almost 12 years, has been beaten badly and led to un unknown location by a gang belonging to these occupiers of the shrine. They are surrounding all the venerable religious leaders of Najaf and threatening them. Contrary to the rumor that these leaders have left the old city, none has done so, except Al Sistani, who is receiving treatment in London.
While the politicians are maneuvering and uttering diplomatic niceties, the tragedy goes on. The valiant Marines and the IP and ICDC eager to save their city and evict the desecrators of the shrine, are being held in check, when the human and religious duty call for the immediate settling of this affair and ending of this tragedy. Who are the defenders of the faith? Who are the saviors? You may say what you say, but you must know that this great Imam has great favor with the Lord, and whoever comes to his rescue is blessed by heaven. They say the Americans are desecrating the holy place. No and a thousand times no. The Americans are helping the people of Najaf, they are now truly defending the shrine and attacking a murderous gang, attacking the desecrators and coming to the rescue of the holy shrine. Glory and blessings will descend on these valiant fighters, they may not know it but they are going to be blessed and aided by invisible forces. Now I think that the voices of the politicians and cowards should be completely ignored and the great alliance that has been forged between the people of Najaf and their American friends, which is [more] solid than anywhere else in Iraq, should be the basis of one great effort that will clean the town and liberate the shrine of our great Imam. This will raise them high in the eyes of the Lord and the Iraqi people and send the right message to all the terrorists and criminals.
May the mercy of the Lord and his blessings descend upon the Saviors of the Shrine and may his great invisible hand grant them victory and wisdom.
I intend to visit The Mesopotamian on a regular basis.