With Arkan Hamed
BAGHDAD - What should have been a joyous four-day Islamic holiday for Eid al-Adha,
which Iraqis began to celebrate Jan. 10, has only highlighted the suffering
under U.S. occupation.
The feast of sacrifice, which begins on the tenth day of the Islamic month
of Dhul Hijja, is celebrated as a commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim's willingness
to sacrifice his son for God.
Eid festivities in Baghdad used to be an occasion for family reunions, where
everyone turned up in their best. But skyrocketing fuel costs have driven up
the price of food, clothing, and everything else, and Eid could no longer be
the same. The frightening lack of security did much to dampen the holiday mood.
"I hope that everybody finds happiness in these days, even our enemies,"
Salma, a 15-year-old student told IPS, "because these are days we wish
good to everybody, even though we are not free to go where we like due to the
security situation or the obstacles that are put up to secure our city, as they
Salma, who did not want to give her last name added, "I wish for God to
forgive their sins against these peaceful people. Eid is the day we meet our
relatives, yet on this one we are missing so many of our friends and relatives."
U.S. Brig. Gen. Donald Alston estimates that at least 500 Iraqis have been
killed since the Dec. 15 elections. Over this period, at least 54 U.S. soldiers
have also been killed.
"Nobody will allow us to leave our homes now," 17-year-old student
Salam told IPS after a roadside bomb exploded just blocks away from his home
in central Baghdad. "Everybody is afraid they might be kidnapped just like
our relative who had been kidnapped for two weeks."
Salam said his relative was released after $4,000 ransom was paid. Now, he
said, no one will allow children to leave the house.
Salam's uncle who had traveled from Amman to join them in their Eid celebration
had his car robbed at gunpoint.
"They held guns to me and my mother's heads," the 50-year-old man
told IPS. "They then pushed both of us out of the car along with my daughter,
and took our car. We tried to catch them, but they went away very fast."
He added: "How can we love the country if we can't enjoy the pleasure
of celebrating Eid with our family?"
Those meant to provide security are themselves not safe. Two policemen died
and five were wounded when a car bomb struck their patrol in Baquba on Friday.
In Iskandariya, Iraqi police found the body of a blindfolded policeman with
his hands tied behind his back. He had been shot in the head. "There is
a big difference between here and Amman," his 14-year-old daughter Maessa
told IPS. "We are free to go wherever we want there, but here we should
stay in our homes. Everybody here is afraid we will be lost, even during Eid.
What kind of freedom have the Americans brought us? The freedom to steal, kill,
and humiliate everybody, and deny their rights to live as humans?"
(Inter Press Service)