Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sorry but I do not speak sectarian.

'No to sectarianism'

It is exams. I am tired. I am stressed. It is almost 5am. I have not slept. A thousand things are running through my mind but the one thing that is keeping me up tonight is my encounter two days ago with an Iraqi acquaintance now foe. It is something I will not forget for a very long time. It has put everything into perspective for me

I was minding my own business in the library and an Iraqi girl I have only met once stopped me for a chat. You know, the usual, asking about exams and what not, making chit chat to pass by study time. But then the usual turned into the not so usual and then into quite a serious conversation when she asked me straight up whether I was a Shia or a Sunni Iraqi. When somebody asks you this they have sectarianism written all over them. After trying to explain to this child that I was a Muslim and do not like to differentiate as I believe in Islam (here is my idealism again!), she then proceeded to tell me that Sunnis are all misguided and they are the ‘wrong ones’ while only Shia Muslims know the truth, contradicting herself all throughout of course. She tried to back up her claims by a book she had read by some Wahhabi that converted to a Shia Muslim (yes, she is basing everything on an ex-Wahhabi!).  

What made me chuckle was when she tried to convince me that under Saddam Hussein children were brainwashed by him, speaking as if she herself is not brainwashed and is nothing but an impartial observer. Furthermore all this girl could tell me was that she hated Saddam and that Iraq needs to look to Iran as an exemplar, but she didn't really know whyI was quite obviously outraged by this point. It all continued for quite some time but I am not going to repeat it here because to be honest the vile she spewed up ever so confidently is irrelevant. But the meaning behind this is everything. It is very telling of tragedy. To me she signifies everything that is wrong with Iraq and to me people like her are the very reason that Iraq will never be the same.

It is disgusting to think that I, as an Iraqi Muslim, am more exposed to sectarianism here in the West in the 21st century than my parents ever were when they grew up in Iraq in the 20th century. It is as disgusting as it is telling. It is a reflection of what the war has created and it is a reflection of the black souls Iraqi's have developed over the years. The Americans have been so successful in creating and bringing out the sectarianism in Iraqis that when they begin to pull out at the end of this year (if they do!) they will not need to engage in any more direct work to destroy us; they need only to sit back and watch Iraqi’s destroy each other and themselves.

I wish at the time I could have said something to this girl, but, I really did not want to make her cry. I am not very nice when it comes to these things but sub7anAllah something was stopping me from wanting to punch this little girl in the face. The next time I am so directly asked what kind of Muslim I am and especially in the overbearing tone aforementioned I will say something around the lines of....

Your sectarianism pollutes the air I breathe.

Your sectarianism is what bled Iraq dry and it is what continues to bleed Iraq dry day after day.

Your sectarianism is the salt that is poured onto an open wound.

Your sectarianism is the electric shock treatment in prison torture cells.

Your sectarianism is the bullet that killed the taxi driver who had the wrong ID to be driving through your streets.

Your sectarianism is the reason my cousin Omar feared for his life and fled Iraq.

Your sectarianism breads a new generation of Iraqi’s that I am unable to identify- A new breed of Iraqi’s that will destroy Iraq all over again with their own hands.

Your sectarianism is what stopped my young cousins from going to school fearing that your shootings outside their school would continue.

Your sectarianism is what turned the Tigris red in 2006 and 2007.

Your sectarianism is what ruined Iraq and it is the reason why I will never have a place to call home.

Please take your sectarianism back to where it belongs. It does not belong here. It does not belong anywhere.

And with that I am going to end this rant. This unedited rant of mine that I am going to leave raw as it is so as to leave the real emotions intact. The last thing I will say is that after this encounter I no longer have hope. We can never move forward if our next generation is filled with such characters. I was such an idealist when it came to Iraq but now I see I was nothing but naive. A naive kid that was trying to envisage brussel sprouts as ice-cream. But brussel sprouts will never be ice-cream. The new Iraq will never be the old Iraq. Sectarianism is not religion. It only taints the religion of Islam. And it is simply disgusting. 

This is what my Iraq will look like with your Sectarianism.


  1. Let your motto be: "Neither naive nor passive".

    Becoming aware of the grim reality does not mean you have to resign yourself to it.

    In fact, awareness can and MUST be the first step of your and other true Iraqis' war path to ACT on that grim reality to change it for the better.

    Mesopotamia was invaded, destroyed and dominated many times during history.

    And it rose again from the ashes every time.

    I don't know how you will do it...I really don't know.

    All I know is that human beings can and MUST be master of their own lives and history.

    I have faith in the human potential of your Iraqi people.

    You will make it through.

  2. Awesome take, thank you for sharing.

    Everything you've said about the evils of sectarianism is correct and I share your sentiments. Unfortunately however this is something that can be said during peace time. War changes everything.

    Communities with minimal or large differences have tended to think in herd mentality and hack other groups they've been brothers with for centuries. It happened with the hindus, sikhs and muslims in India, it happened with Serbs, the Croats and the Muslims in the Balkans, and it continuously happens in Africa across different racial religious divides.

    At the end of the day these differences are a reality, and for us to pretend or wish strongly that they don't exist will only weaken us. Instead we should embrace and acknowledge these differences and make a strong bold step past them. Both sides that is.

    The sectarian fractures of Iraq are a product of the US invasion and its subsequent realignment of internal and external power structures just as much as it is based on historical grievances. The chain of massacres and tit for tat assassinations and power grabs over the past 8 years has only served to deepen this divide. As long as the US is on Iraqi soil making use of (and actively working to) widen this rift. It will be near impossible to have a united Iraq.

    The sad thing is that even with these differences there are is a lot of shared culture. The language and dialect, the food, the cartoons, the shared sadness at the destruction at this once proud great country and its peoples.

    Allah y3een aljamee3

    Thanks again.

  3. AAHHH this is so true!!!!
    Its ridiculous, I never realised the split in the West is bigger than the one back home, you missed out the part where they come back the second day and ask you what part of Baghdad you're from, and what '3asheera' you're from to try to work out which side you're on.

    I was recently discussing the mosque bombings in Baghdad, to which one of my 'iraqi friends' interrupted and said 'yes but you know 7abeebti, there was a bomb explosion in Basra a week ago which injured 40, and it was never in the news'.

    She then went off into the whole topic of Bahrain being a cover up operation. I've been in situations that are vice versa, such as the Samarra explosion, to which some of my friends on the other side of the scale told me it was an inside job by Iran, 'to make the shia exterminate the sunni'.

    It gets so frustrating when people care more for their sectarian conspiracy theories than the loss of human life.

    Good post :)

  4. Interesting post. I know where you're coming from. This is one of the most frustrating things with Iraqis now, especially our younger generation. When you talk about brainwashing, these are textbook cases. I too feel sorry for these types of people and I'm just shocked by how they think. I haven't had too many direct encounters with them, but there's a lot I'd want to say too. What kills me are the accusations by all sides to the loyalties of other groups.

    The last post summed it up well: "It gets so frustrating when people care more for their sectarian conspiracy theories than the loss of human life."

    But I do want to say that you're not naive. I think of myself as an idealist too sometimes, but I think we have to be. If not us, then who? It's our generation that is responsible now; it's in our hands. This is an old post, so I know now you have more hope as you put your energy into working for the future of the country.