One Iraqi's View of the Constitution
It's the details that matter in Baghdad Burning as often as the opinions expressed.
You can almost taste the messy tooki fruit, and picture the old swing, the fence and the frustrating neighbor behind it.
The author of the blog goes by Riverbend, and her work is full of gems -- some uplifting, others disturbing -- about life in today's Iraq from the perspective of a 20-something Iraqi woman living in the capital. (Here's a bit about her and her blog, and about the spoof blog that once tried to take her on.) Her discussion of the proposed constitution, like her writing over the last two years, is nuanced and compelling.
It seems, for example, that Iraqis share with Americans the widespread attitude that one little vote doesn't really matter. Riverbend relates her neighbor's reaction when encouraged to read the text of the proposed constitution -- she used it to sweep away the tooki fruit, then handed it back, stained and unread.
Riverbend claims that Iraqi forces are threatening Sunnis in an effort to keep them away from the polls. And those on all sides who are planning to vote, Riverbend says, have already made up their minds "based not on personal convictions, but on the fatwas and urgings of both Sunni and Shia clerics." And as for women's rights? They "aren't a primary concern for anyone, anymore," she writes. "People actually laugh when someone brings up the topic. 'Let's keep Iraq united first'," they say.
Most troubling was her last line:
Rights and freedoms have become minor concerns compared to the possibility of civil war, the reality of ethnic displacement and cleansing, and the daily certainty of bloodshed and death.
Think about that. The rights and freedoms that American leaders say we went into Iraq to establish (putting aside those phantom weapons of mass destruction that were the original rationale for invading) pale in comparison to the very real threat of violence that Iraqis face every day. Riverbend's picture is of a people living in fear -- or, where they've gotten past their fear, convinced that their fate is entirely out of their hands.
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