Every time I check Riverbend’s blog I get a shiver of apprehension, a deep fear that there will be a message of sorrow about her death. Every time I see that she’s up and running and complaining and illuminating (in her articulate and nonthreatening way), I’m grateful. You might notice if you follow along for a while that she never really rants – her comments might be biting and sarcastic, but they don’t seem to be cruel or mean. It seems to me that all she has to do is tell it like it is – her experiences, her point of view – and let her readers make their own conclusions.
Her last post was about the deepening divide between Sunni and Shia in Iraq. It’s pretty telling, and it answers some questions I’ve been asking for a while. None of what she says (as usual) surprises me.
Here’s a bit of it, but it’s absolutely worth reading in its entirety (as usual):
It was years later before I learned that half the family were Sanafir, and the other half were Shanakil, but nobody cared. We didn’t sit around during family reunions or family dinners and argue Sunni Islam or Shia Islam. The family didn’t care about how this cousin prayed with his hands at his side and that one prayed with her hands folded across her stomach. Many Iraqis of my generation have that attitude. We were brought up to believe that people who discriminated in any way- positively or negatively- based on sect or ethnicity were backward, uneducated and uncivilized.
The thing most worrisome about the situation now, is that discrimination based on sect has become so commonplace. For the average educated Iraqi in Baghdad, there is still scorn for all the Sunni/Shia talk. Sadly though, people are being pushed into claiming to be this or that because political parties are promoting it with every speech and every newspaper- the whole ‘us’ / ‘them’. We read constantly about how ‘We Sunnis should unite with our Shia brothers…’ or how ‘We Shia should forgive our Sunni brothers…’ (note how us Sunni and Shia sisters don’t really fit into either equation at this point). Politicians and religious figures seem to forget at the end of the day that we’re all simply Iraqis.
And what role are the occupiers playing in all of this? It’s very convenient for them, I believe. It’s all very good if Iraqis are abducting and killing each other- then they can be the neutral foreign party trying to promote peace and understanding between people who, up until the occupation, were very peaceful and understanding.
Seems to me that the main purpose our presence is serving in Iraq right now is divisive. The extreme terrorist groups won't ever consider a cease-fire until American troops are gone or at least partially withdrawn. And the leaders of the American occupation are hell-bent on staying there as long as there are still terrorist attacks.
What a lovely state of affairs. Funded by my tax dollars. Oh - and by yours, too, if you pay taxes in America.