Monday, 6 August 2012

Iraq: a million dead people doesn't equal liberation.

It seemed like it was a cartoon, a film, a Hollywood production. Two towers collapsing by hijacked planes? It felt surreal.
The next day the atmosphere in school had changed so suddenly. I was looked at differently. People would whisper around me and I’d pretend I didn’t hear what they were saying. I’ll never forget that feeling, the feeling of being an outsider; and all for what? For being Muslim? Did I commit these attacks myself? Do I even support such atrocities?
I was sitting at the dinner table in the canteen opposite my class mate. Conversation started and soon broke out into name calling. ‘Mini Osama Bin Laden’ was what he had said. I broke into tears. He was sent to the head masters office, and I slowly walked back to class wiping my eyes. Half way through the lesson I was pulled back out to be faced by the head master himself. ‘Has he returned back to class?’ he asked me, and after replying no he gave me a particular look I won’t forget, a look to say that I had over reacted. Looking back at the incident, was he trying to imply that somehow this was justifiable? That the racial abuse I had received ‘wasn’t as bad’ as I had made out? That’s when I knew the world had changed for the worse. That’s when I knew that I wasn't just going to be looked at differently in school; I was going to be seen differently by society.

It was mid-march 2003, the TV was open to the Arabic Al-Jazeera news channel where there was live coverage of the start of the Iraq war. I remember the image on the screen so vividly. The sky was dark, misty, almost blue-ish and there was a serenity in the atmosphere that was soon to be destroyed, to be history to the people of Iraq by the aimless explosions that followed. The dark sky lit up with every explosion that took place, the smoke would ascend and fill the area and my mother would silently weep every time. It’s not easy to see your mum cry for the first time as an eleven year old child but I fought back the tears, I held my emotions in - I did it for my mother. ‘We didn’t think it would happen, there were too many people, politicians, who strongly disagreed,’ I remember my mother saying on the phone to her relatives. But it did happen, it has happened and there wasn’t anything we could do to stop it, even marching across London in protest didn’t work.
The next day at school I walked in and whilst my class mates were innocently playing in the play ground unaware, I ran into the cloak rooms, hung up my bag and coat, sat down, put my hands to face and cried. I let it all out. One of the most common thoughts that ran through my head continuously was ‘will I ever be able to see Iraq one day? Will I ever be able to meet my relatives that my mother talks about all the time before misfortunate events take them away from me forever?’ This was war. No one’s life was guaranteed.

didn't understand and I still don’t understand why all of a sudden the dictatorship of Sadam and the livelihood of the Iraqi people mattered so much to the world, why they had to invade their country, terrorise and murder their people all in the name of ‘democracy.’  In the words of Lowkey, ‘a million dead people doesn't equal liberation,’some ‘liberation’ this turned out to be. 

In the minds of many, the reason the United States went to war with Iraq is still not clear, yet there was and still are a great amount of people who support this war. But at such a time in our history, people were heedless, people wanted revenge, they wanted a nation to target, a group of people to direct their anger towards, which is only their human nature acting up. But human nature also consists of starting wars, wanting power, causing destruction. We should re-evaluate our human nature and abide by the laws of ‘right and wrong’ whether human nature falls into these categories or not. They claimed that Iraq had WMD, yet they found none and murdered millions. They stole, lied, cheated. They destroyed..NO, they TEARED APART my country. The people were physically exhausted, mentally tired and just sick of this so called ‘Democracy.’ The statistics for poverty, death, deformed births, and even suicide rose significantly. I don’t care what anyone has to say, the dictatorship of Sadam never ruined the country like this war did. In the total 35 years of his reign, around 3,000 lives were lost to his dictatorship. In the 6 years of the Iraq war, the IBC (Iraqi body count) shows that over 100,000 lives were lost along with our economy, our dignity, our pride. Can anyone in their right mind tell me what this war has accomplished? I’ll tell you what! It’s accomplished power, military bases, less competition, oil, profit, money but definitely not democracy. This is a term unknown to the Iraqi people and used so freely by the American Government, and now with this pathetic Iraqi ‘puppet government’ in power, I’m certain it’s a term that will never be known to the Iraqi people.

It’s a land I've never set foot on, a land I’ve never lived on, a land I’ve never seen, never experienced. Yet even after this war and the fall of our great country that once was, I still have a burning love inside for it, one that will never die. I guess no matter what, this unknown land to me will always play a part in who I am.


  1. A beautifully written piece Ibbi. Simply broke my heart reading it. Allahu ya7fadh Iraq wa jamee3 el muslimeen.

  2. Salamu'alaykum Nazifa, thank you for your kind words, I hope you enjoyed it. Ameen ya Raab!