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[casi] Anti-occupation group/Funeral Banners in Iraq

We are continuing to show our slideshow on the US occupation of Iraq to
interested groups in the Philadelphia and New Jersey area. A PowerPoint CD version
will be available soon.

In solidarity
Bob Allen, Campaign to End the Sanctions  215 438 4187

A new group has been formed, Committee to End the Occupation of Iraq,
initially among New Jersey antiwar activists, to support the human and sovereign
rights of the people of Iraq and oppose the US occupation, See:
To join its discussion list and receive moderate updates see:, moderated by Bob Witanek;

Banners in Iraq keep losses in public view
July 6, 2003, By Natalie Pompilio, Inquirer Staff Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The banners, black with yellow and white lettering, can't be
missed. They hang throughout Baghdad, covering walls at the busiest traffic
circles, draping across fences and even hanging on street vendors' carts. Their
messages are simple:
"Maysam Salaah Abd al Rasool Mashkoor, a university student, was killed in
the U.S. bombing."
"Kalil Abrahim al Saidy, a lawyer, died from burns after American troops
fired a missile at his car."
"I see this and it makes me angry. It makes me sad," said taxi driver Qess
Muhammed Kalf, 33, gesturing at a banner in central Baghdad. "It makes every
honest Iraqi man angry and sad because this man was killed at the hands of the
invaders. I think there will be more banners because the Iraqis will call for a
jihad against the American Army [and Iraqis will die]. There will be
These are funeral banners, and the Iraqis use them to announce the deaths of
loved ones. They include family ties and funeral information. In use before
the war, they're now more important than ever.
There are no newspaper obituaries; long-distance travel to notify friends and
relatives is marred by checkpoints and a curfew; and telephone service hasn't
been restored. This is how families spread the news of death.
But the banners have taken on a political tone in the last few months. Iraqis
say the banners rarely included details about the cause of death until
coalition forces caused those deaths. Now, although many of the people they
commemorate have been gone for months, the banners remain, reminding passersby that
the soldiers occupying their city have Iraqi blood on their hands.
"It's a way to go against the Americans," said Hussain Noori, a University of
Baghdad psychology professor. "When you see more than one person killed by
Americans, it will send the message, 'These guys are killing everybody and they
might get me next, so I'd better do something.' "
Some of the more recent banners recall the crimes of Saddam Hussein's
government. One memorializes 24 "martyrs" whose bodies were found recently in mass
graves. "Died at the hands of Saddam Hussein" is how they are remembered. They
greatly outnumber the dead at coalition hands.
But Hussein is gone, untouchable, while the U.S. military is visibly present
in this city of nearly five million people. As the occupation drags on and the
city continues to lack basic services such as electricity and water, these
small reminders of what is seen as American wrongdoing fuel anger.
That's exactly what Maysam Mashkoor's family wants.
"It was important, because of our hatred of the Americans. We wrote that for
all people to see and to know what happened to our Maysam," said her mother,
Hannan al Hafeth.
When the bombing of Baghdad began, Maysam, her parents and five siblings fled
to a nearby suburb.
On April 6, they were moving to another suburb in a two-car convoy when a
bomb fell nearby. Shrapnel pierced the first car, and one piece sheared off the
left side of Maysam's head.
"We are finished," al Hafeth said of her family. Her 9-year-old son complains
of chest pains. Her 3-year-old boy can talk of nothing but Maysam, the bomb
and the blood.
"She had so much happiness," al Hafeth said of her daughter, using her
traditional black mourning dress to wipe her eyes. "She was so pretty, so confident.
She thought she'd be something big, and now she is something big. She is a

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