Thursday, December 18, 2008

The al-Zaidi Follow-up

Several news reports are saying that Muntadhar al-Zaidi has been beaten and possibly tortured while he was in custody after the shoe-throwing incident. This morning, I read reports that he has written an apology for his "ugly act." People are saying that the apology was written under the threat of further torture.

This is in no way tolerable. I don't personally agree with al-Zaidi's act (although I understand and sympathize with why he did it), but getting harassment like this is much, much worse. If I was saying that the power that comes with freedom of speech should be checked by responsibility, then what is there to say about the power that comes with physical and military might?

My last post, by the way, caused a huge comment war on my Facebook account. I was really impressed with all the different opinions people articulated - it's great to get conversations like this going. But on the other hand, I hope that we (myself included) don't get too sucked up in the media frenzy over flashy stories like this and forget about all the other things going on in Iraq.

There are lots of other, underreported incidents happening in the country that deserve the same attention, if not more. Just check out Haifa Zangana's City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman's Account of War and Resistance. That book shows you what's going on in Iraq from a mature and articulate Iraqi point of view - something you don't get to see too often in the mainstream media. Her articles in the Guardian are just as interesting.

What's important as we try to understand what's going on in Iraq is some form of balance and objectivity. Only then can we possibly work at creating solutions for the problems that have ravaged the country since (and before) 2003.

1 comment:

Nicholas Karavatos said...

Reports of his maltreatment did not come from observing his appearence in public at his court hearing, from reports I know about.

His brother simply claimed this, but that seems to be proof enough for most. Dare I ask for the evidence?

However, according to Huffington Post "another brother [has] denied that the journalist suffered severe injuries after he was wrestled to the floor after throwing the shoes."

That claims he wasn't treated as badly on the scene as my old comrade who threw a pie in Mayor Wille Brown's face.

"People are saying that the apology was written under the threat of further torture."

What people are saying this? What is the evidence?

And if so, this is what often happens in Middle Eastern prisons, isn't?

Oh no, how dare I say that!

Even in the Sacred Cow of Palestine:
http://www.phrmg.org/monitor1999/jan99-torture.htm
http://www.phrmg.org/monitor2000/mar2000-torture.htm

Just like Ziad should be responsible for his own act, no matter how much we enjoyed it, the poeple of the Middle East should have the courage to challenge their own systems and demand prison reform and abolition of torture by their own security services.

I am with you on that borderless international movement. Let's all get our own houses in order.

In the words of the most famous appropriated Jewish prophet:

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?...First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

That goes for everyone on every side. No one is exempt.