After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Moon and Planet
Photo of Moon and Planet over Baghdad by Marshmallow26
“To light a candle is much better than cursing the darkness.”
So signed off Ausama on his last video for Hometown Baghdad.
Today I will concentrate my post on reactions to the second bombing of the shrine in Samarra. An event that has provoked much speculation among Iraqi bloggers. The first bombing proved to be a juncture in the ongoing war in Iraq and the second may prove just as critical, so it important to record responses here. That is not all, there is also Iraqi food and if you read to the end, which is the most sectarian blog ever? But first..

If you watch no other video-blog this week watch this one...

My heartfelt condolences goes goes to Ausama for the loss of his uncle. Killed by American soldiers while returning home from the market. We hear of so many accidental killings by American soldiers of Iraqis but no news report ever lets you feel the devastation and anger at such a needless loss. Which is why video blogs like Hometown Baghdad are so critical to understanding the true meaning and pointlessness of the American military presence in Iraq. Ausama's mother says:
We used to like the American people we used to believe they are good people but by force, by military action, not the best will come.

Samarra revisited

The last time the the Askariya Shrine was attacked it heralded a wave of reprisals across the country along with a wave of comment from Iraqi blogs. This time around the blogs are still buzzing.

New blogger Mohammed of Last-of-Iraqis reports the ensuing violence giving details that you simply do not hear in the media:
I was in the dental office when I heard about this from my senior, he said that I should go home now because the streets are so troubled, so I decided to go home, when I was in the street I realized that the streets are really troubled and scary, I took a cab and went straight home and as I reached, the sounds of explosions didn't stop, I think they were mortars falling everywhere mixed with the sounds of ambulances and police patrols, it's really scary in Baghdad now. I wish it will settle down soon with the minimum casualties.
He provides updated reports and the whole post and its following post on the reprisal attacks against Shia and Sunni Mosques make essential reading.

Eye Raki is almost losing hope with the Americans and the Iraqi Government:
I have always said that removing Saddam Hussein was the best option for Iraq... It's just the manner of both the US and Iraqi government that worries me... they are making mistakes and they should learn from them. When one of the holiest shrines in Iraq gets blown to bits, if you can't re-build it ... the very least you can do is make sure things like that don't happen again. The terrorists simply came back over a year later and finished the job.
Shaqawa echoes the same sentiment. He quotes Ayatollah Sistani, "If the government cannot protect the shrine then someone else should." He also explains his view on the mentality of the bombers:
the terrorists want to tell the Shi’a “We hate you, we hate your religion and your imams.” They want to kill all Shi’a. They want to tell us that nothing good will ever happen for the Shi’a.
And Hammorabi goes two steps further. While blaming the bombing on the failure of the occupation forces, he suggests that they should leave and a military government should replace the current democracy:
Democracy like the one in Iraq is more dangerous than military roles for the country. Iraq may need a strong leader to withhold it rather than weak chaotic politicians.
Several bloggers vent their anger at those behind the bombing of the Shrine. Iraq Mojo cannot believe those people call themselves Muslims. April Girl asks angry questions:
There are 6,601,676,326 ways to God. (Right now.) That many ways to worship, to think, to talk, to act, to take in this world. Has that not been realized? ...

What is going on? Do you not believe you are walking on the One True Path? Is that not enough? Does your path force you to hurt, rape, murder and destroy this planet?

What is going on? Isn't your faith beautiful? Isn't that enough? Why bother other people who don't believe in the things you do? What is your problem? What do you want from them?

What is going on? Are you not right?! Aren't you satisfied with that? Let people be! As long as we don't harm each other then why don't people just let people be?!?!

Why do you bomb a Holy site that has been there since the 10th century? Do you think we care about bricks and mortar and gold? Do you think it is the physical building that is the cause of people's faith? Destroy that and you've crumbled the Shias of Mohammad? The Shias of God? Is your gray matter that atrophied?? In what state of Soul are you??? Sorry, do you even have one is the question. Nasty human beings.
And, Neurotic Wife saves her loathing for all the parties that "have ruined this once historic and divine place" and blames the neighbouring countries:
This war is about Iraqis themselves. This war is about destroying Iraq and everything it represents. The so called friendly neighbours, who keep promising to help out are themselves the criminals. They are supplying the militias and the gangs with deadly weapons. Not one of them wants Iraq to be stable, not one of them wants Iraq to prosper. This war is no longer about the occupation. This war is a deadly war, A Deadly War of the Devils....
But I will not end on a sour note. After emerging from the inevitable curfew following the bombing, Chikitita was surprised by what she saw:
On the trip back home, we dropped by the drugstore and kind of liked what we saw. Baghdadis strangely wore smiles on their faces, I thought I’d never see those again. Shops were bustling. People are reverting to their Iraqi manners, mum noted, referring to a policeman who helped a woman get into a minibus. This too was non-existent few weeks ago.

Mum’s words reminded me of what she once told me, you’ll never know which people are good and which ones are bad until you’re struck by a crippling crisis.

Food, Glorious Food!

Ah, a couple of posts on my (and probably every Iraqi's) favourite subject. I have spent many dinner parties discussing the intricacies of Iraqi dates or the Noomi Heloo (an Iraqi citrus fruit) or finding the English name for Iraqi foods (anyone know the nearest thing to 'botnich'?). Fatima is in America and tries hard to make the food she likes but:
after trying to make that perfect cup of tea after cup of tea, and after a few attempts at making a yummy dish of eggs, I have finally come to the conclusion that it just tastes better over there!
Hala_S talks about Iraqi food starting with the Pomegranate:
For me the sight of pomegranates takes me years and years back to my childhood when these fruits would stay in the basket untouched till my dear mother wash them, take the seeds out and put them in a large bowl in the fridge. ...

Poor Brits, they think they are eating pomegranates, while in fact they are eating something that looks like them, but far from the real taste, I wish they can try the ones grown in Baqouba or Karbala, they will know then that they’ve been cheated out of their money and taste!

This goes for nearly every other fruit or vegetable. Tomatoes are the best example, you find cherry tomatoes, beef tomatoes, plum tomatoes and tomatoes on vine leaves, and really they should be called cherry plastics or plum plastics. Where are they from our shapeless, disfigured, dented and full of spots ones? Our ugly tomatoes full of juice and flavour will put all others in shame!

I once paid a fortune in an Italian restaurant to eat samples of few truffles brought all the way from Tuscany in Italy, and were served to me in such a fuss as if I was about to eat pieces of gold!
Oh my dear Iraq, if only they’ve tasted your muddy truffles that we used to buy in big sacs and spent ages to clean.

We the people of Iraq are exactly like our crops! Rough, tough, harsh and scarred, but once you open them up, you see the real flavour of kindness, generosity and genuineness.

And Finally, The Most Sectarian Blog Ever Award goes to...

Most Sectarian Blog AwardAfter Konfused Kid labelled The Shaqawa as the 'Most Sectarian Blog Ever', Shaqawa has been wearing it as a badge of pride. He even made his own logo (pictured left).

Salam Adil (that's me) reviewed another contender. On his qualification points of reverence for the sect's leaders and pathological hatred of the opposition, Salam passes the award to Layla Anwar. He writes:
After Layla's fawning letter to Saddam and labelling of Basra as an Iranian enclave; I am sorry Shaqawa you are going to have to hand over your award!
But Shaqawa is having none of it. He writes:
I will have to say that I will never give my award to this Layla. Of course you know that the Saddam lovers and Ba’thists stole everything in Iraq and made Iraq into a big prison. They took everything and still were cheered by so many people and even today many Arabs and Sunnis will praise Saddam. Well after stealing so much now their hero Saddam is dead and buried in his dirty village. And the stealing days of the Ba’thists are almost done. Ba’thists in Iraq are almost done. May all of them see Saddam’s end as a warning. Iraq is for Iraqis, not Ba’thists. Even an online award, I will not give it to a dirty Ba’thist and lover of Saddam.
So, no contest then. But I do not see why we should stop at Iraq. What other blogs would qualify for this award?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God...

Marshmallow26 after narrowly missing a roadside bomb this week

What can I say? Another week full of essential reads. There is no need for an introduction they are all important and worth reading so let's begin...

If you read no other blogs ever read this one:

I give up I may as well stop and leave at this point. Sunshine's latest post has a little bit for everyone - there is just no need to read anything else. Converting olive oil covers into candelabras or turning her kid brother's slipper into a mobile phone cover (I kid you not); the banal minutiae of daily life; taking exams in a hurry while her father was waiting outside in 46C heat and shooting and shelling happening near her neighbourhood; and answering reader questions. Mr Bennett asked her, "How do you remain so "Sunny" in the face of such terrible things happening around you?" and her answer is one so full of wisdom it should be a lesson to us all:
I don’t remain "sunny" all the time believe me , I have times of desperation (or days of desperation!) specially when bad things happen one after the other, like when I hear 3 or 4 bad news everyday for few days continuously , like 3 weeks ago , my mom’s uncle was killed , my relative was kidnapped , the us soldiers took our friends , and the policemen took my friend’s dad... those events happened in less than a week for people I know and care about , that made me very scared and depressed ,beside the stories I heard about killing two families..., those events made me so close to lose my mind , I felt like I was living in a horror movie !! but I felt better and returned “Sunny” after few days .

I can’t live with desperation, I like to laugh , joke ,I won’t allow the war to effect my daily life and routine , I try to be as positive as possible, for me and for people around me .

No matter what happen to me in my way to school (the delay , mines , explosions, etc) I open the door with a big smile on my face, that makes my mom happy as well as my family , no one like to see a sulky face..

I made my decision that I should accept the reality I live in a war zone and I can’t change that , I didn’t choose to live in a war zone, I am not responsible for what is happening , I can choose whether I live optimistic or not.

Sometimes people live in great areas , have wonderful life, and have almost everything , but they are not satisfied ,in the same time people live in misery and still have hope , and do their best to have a good life, it’s all about decisions.

No matter what happen , I’ll do my best to live a normal life and won’t let the situation and the terrorists have a great effect on my life and education, The terrorists want us to be depressed and miserable , they want us to lose the hope which is a basic thing for the life to continue , if there is no hope , there is no life. I don’t want the terrorists to win and achieve their goal, I don’t think it is impossible to have a peaceful life “impossible is nothing” .

we don’t hear in the stories that the devil wins, right? We hear the virtuous always win , I believe it is the same thing in reality. It is a matter of time. ...

Never Ever Give Up

Sunshine ..

Well, I wont stop there as there are more great posts to report.

Chikitita has house-search no. 10, This time by the Iraqi army. Although nervous about an army that had beaten her brother she sees the human side. She writes:
This time I saw the fellow humans within, whose eyes beamed at the fresh tea mum offered and shy smiles were drawn at the mention of cold water, which they haven’t tasted in days. I didn’t feel guilty for stereotyping them as the evil robots, who beat the lives out of unarmed civilians without qualms and take away free men’s freedom and sometimes last breaths, but I wished they could give their humanity a chance and treat people like flesh and blood. I also wondered about the insurgents who attack them, if only they both had a chance to talk to each other, the whole country would have been different, so would our wretched Iraqi type of life.

Marshmallow26 writes her 100th post. She survived a roadside bomb, but her cousin was killed by a car bomb. She finishes with:
For one moment I thought of how I survived that morning but that cousin didn't!! what is the philosophy behind this? I have no idea.
I hate to start my number 100 post with sad story but would like to end it with some happy stuff...I am still alive and to me, living in Iraq to see the next day is such a miracle from God...

Saif's story on Hometown Baghdad comes to a close and, after watching this month's episode, he was moved to quota an email from a viewer that he received:
“When I thought of Iraq 4 hours ago, I thought of militants with guns and veiled woman kept indoors. I didn’t think of rock music, video games, college classes, family dinners and days spent just fooling around with friends. When I thought of Iraqis, I didn’t think of kids just like me–kids who just want to laugh and date, play rock-n-roll, tease their siblings and hang around with their friends in the park.”

Maura, Viewer
Saif writes:
This is what we achieved in our show, Hometown Baghdad, ... Thanks to all the people who worked on this powerful reality show. ... We risked our lives and did our best to transfer the truth to the minds of our viewers. We filmed with the background sound of bullets and choppers. We filmed while the power was off. But we filmed and continued filming to the last moment when we were forced to leave our country. This has all been for you, Baghdad. The city of Sinbad, the city of Shehrazad, the city where we belong.

It was a great honor to share my life with all of you. I made many friendships with people who were ready to help. They are really great people by any standard. It has been an honor working with the Iraqi crew who were very brave, and the American crew who did a great a job of making the series as you see it now. It has been a unique experience in my life, and I am proud to have done this for my country. It was a patriotic job. And in the future, I hope I can do more to help my wounded country.

Word from the street ... in Basrah

Fayrouz posts a letter from Queen Amidala on the Sadr effect in Basrah:
Al-Sadr continues to get stronger. I mean look at the events he created this past month in the Southern cities of Iraq and Baghdad. Since the start of the new security plan in Baghdad, it's rumored that he fled to Iran. But, why would he leave to Iran? Nobody can touch him anyway, with or without a security plan.

In return, what have the U.S. or U.K. forces done? The answer is only one word, NOTHING. They have troubles staying in Iraq and they would have more troubles leaving Iraq. ...

Al-Sadr has become a very important man and can play with the situation in Iraq. A lot of people believe in him and in his powerful Army, and he is getting more powerful by the day.

Let me tell you an incident that took place a few days ago.

As usual, we were out of electricity. Because of the heat, the electricity lines in our neighborhood were sparking very badly. So, we had to use our own generators while the national electricity was available for the whole day. IMAGINE!!!!.

One of our neighbors went to the electricity department and asked them to fix the electricity lines. They told him they will fix them the next morning. The next morning, they didn't send any crew to fix the lines. So, he went back to the electricity department. He even bribed them. They took the money and still didn't come to fix the lines.

Finally, he went to a nearby Al-Sadr office. He explained the the situation to them. Al-Mehdi office acted promptly. They arranged for a small force to go to the electricity department and they forced the department to fix the lines right away that night.

The next day we had another small problem with the electricity. This time, the electricity department came right away and fixed it.

Now tell me, why wouldn't a lot of people believe in them or join them?

And in Baghdad

Nabil reports from the ghost town that is his neighbourhood. He also posts a video and some photos:
So we walked in that entrance street and it was like walking into a street in like a resident evil movie or old cow-boys movies.It was like walking into an abandoned city, the street was completely empty, there were no signs of life in that street, the street was messed up and destroyed, the shops were all closed and broken, there was no single human being in that street, smoke clouds were coming out from a bombed or destroyed buildings, birds were flying high and it was completely quiet. ... I was so sad to see that my neighbourhood which was one of the most famous neighbourhoods of baghdad of being so crowdy and never sleeps neighbourhood to end up like this.


Several bloggers took on the issue of the sectarian divide that is causing so much strife in Iraq. Iraqi Mojo heard of a family friend who was dragged from his home and murdered for no reason other than being Shia. He writes: "the people who murder Shi'a just for being Shi'a must be the Wahhabi scum from outside Iraq ... but even if the murderers are non-Iraqi Wahhabis, they could not have known where the Shi'a live in Baghdad without the help of locals, so the Iraqi Ba'thists are at least accomplices in these crimes. I cannot fathom how the Iraqi Shi'a can reconcile with Iraqis who have aided Al Qaeda in their pursuit to murder Shi'a ... Even after the Wahhabi murderous scum are driven out of Iraq, I cannot imagine how the Iraqi Shi'a can live peacefully with the hardcore Ba'thists - I'm afraid it's impossible after all that's happened."

The Shaqawa writes about the Shia identity in Iraqi and why people hold so strongly on to it:
Before the Shi’a were persecuted for being Shi’a. They were told that they were not Iraqi, not Arab, and did not belong in Iraq, where the majority of people are Shi’ite. Even if you did not care that much about your sect of Islam, you would be aware of it when you were told that you were an enemy because of your sect.

And Konfused Kid writes three - epic - posts translating a book written in the 1950's by Iraqi social historian Ali Al-Wardi which explains much of the sectarian strife today. The real fascination, however, is in the comments section where the Kid draws out some thoughtful criticism.

And Finally...

Zappy has been watching the biggest reality TV show in Britain. And in 9 words sums up the feelings of many...
Let me be brief.

10 minutes watching this and I'm about to vomit...