↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Haroon Siddiqui: Why Iraqi journalist has become a hero

As unprofessional as the Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi was in flinging his shoes at George W. Bush and calling the president a dog, the incident provided useful glimpses into the Arabs – and us.

Zaidi became an instant hero across the Middle East. By yesterday, the Arabic Al Jazeera's website had 34 pages of reader input. There and elsewhere, the sentiment was the same:

"That pair of shoes equals all the Arab armies."

"Those shoes were more potent than all the weapons of mass destruction."

"It's a good thing the shoes did not hit Bush. Had they, they would have been too dirty to wear."

"I'll name my son Muntazer."

As amusing as all this is, sadly it also reflects the Arab proclivity for glorifying anyone displaying the slightest defiance against the United States: Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and now Zaidi.


Yet our media have suffused Zaidi's act and outburst with too much anthropological significance: "Showing the sole of shoes is considered an extreme insult in Arab culture." "Dog is considered an unclean animal."

This doggone Orientalism distracts us from the bigger picture.

At least 100,000 Iraqis are dead. More than 2 million are refugees in Syria and Jordan. Another 2 million are internally displaced. Infrastructure has been wiped out.

The military surge that Bush hailed in Baghdad as "one of the greatest successes in the history of the United States military" is a success only in that Iraqis are dying just in the dozens, not hundreds, every day.

The sectarian massacres let loose by the occupation have been stopped only by the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad and other cities. Gone are the mixed Shiite, Sunni and Christian neighbourhoods that were a model for the Middle East. Scared people now live in religious and ethnic ghettoes behind barricades, walls and checkpoints.

The surge is a success if it is defined as buying off, at $300 a month, nearly 100,000 Sunnis, half of them insurgents or sympathizers of the insurgency, whose commitment to peace will only be known once the trough is taken away.


Post a Comment

<< Home