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[casi] From Riverbend..

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Demonstrations in Baghdad...

Thousands were demonstrating today- I think near the
Ministry of Oil (though someone said it was somewhere
else). There were even women demonstarting because a
female has been detained for refusing to have her bag
checked by the troops... The troops began firing into
the air and fighting suddenly broke out between the
mob and some troops... we still don't know what's

- posted by river @ 3:05 PM


I heard some more details about the demonstration
today… The whole situation was outrageous and people
are still talking about it.

Ever since the occupation, employees of the Ministry
of Oil are being searched by troops- and lately, dogs.
The employees have been fed up… the ministry itself is
a virtual fortress now with concrete, barbed wire and
troops. The employees stand around for hours at a
time, waiting to be checked and let inside. Iraqis
have gotten accustomed to the 'security checks'. The
checks are worse on the females than they are on the
males because we have to watch our handbags rummaged
through and sometimes personal items pulled out and
examined while dozens of people stand by, watching.

Today, one of the women who work at the ministry,
Amal, objected when the troops brought forward a dog
to sniff her bag. She was carrying a Quran inside of
it and to even handle a Quran, a Muslim has to be
'clean' or under 'widhu'. 'Widhu' is the process of
cleansing oneself for prayer or to read from the
Quran. We simply wash the face, neck, arms up to the
elbows and feet with clean water and say a few brief
'prayers'. Muslims carry around small Qurans for
protection and we've been doing it more often since
the war- it gives many people a sense of security. It
doesn't not mean the person is a 'fundamentalist' or

As soon as Amal protested about letting the dog sniff
her bag because of the Quran inside, the soldier
grabbed the Quran, threw it out of the bag and
proceeded to check it. The lady was horrified and the
dozens of employees who were waiting to be checked
moved forward in a rage at having the Quran thrown to
the ground. Amal was put in hand-cuffs and taken away
and the raging mob was greeted with the butts of

The Iraqi Police arrived to try to intervene, and
found the mob had increased in number because it had
turned from a security check into a demonstration. One
of the stations showed police officers tearing off
their "IP" badge- a black arm badge to identify them
as Iraqi Police and shouting at the camera, "We don't
want the badge- we signed up to help the people, not
see our Quran thrown to the ground…"

Some journalists say that journalists' cameras were
confiscated by the troops…

This is horrible. It made my blood boil just hearing
about it- I can't imagine what the people who were
witnessing it felt. You do not touch the Quran. Why is
it so hard to understand that some things are sacred
to people?!

How would the troops feel if Iraqis began flinging
around Holy Bibles or Torahs and burning crosses?!
They would be horrified and angry because you do not
touch a person's faith…

But that's where the difference is: the majority of
Iraqis have a deep respect for other cultures and
religions… and that's what civilization is. It's not
mobile phones, computers, skyscrapers and McDonalds;
It's having enough security in your own faith and
culture to allow people the sanctity of theirs…

- posted by river @ 3:05 PM

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