BAGHDAD BLOGGER 16
Welcome back to Baghdad. I am afraid that today we will be talking about death and how it seems to be always around the corner here. And how we are shutting up and shutting down because of fear.In the 1980s Kanaan Makia, an Iraqi dissident wrote The republic of fear, a book revealing the reality of Iraq under Saddam. IN VISIONToday Saddam is in prison and we are constantly being told that we have been liberated but when I look around me I still see a Republic of Fear.I started out wanting to ask does life and death take on a different meaning when we live with them ever dayCOMMENTARYBut really its not the fear of death but the way we live our lives today that worries me most. OOVBut before I tell you about that, let me show you where you can and cant go in Bagdad. Today you dont just stumble out you need to know which neighbourhood is OK, because believe it really is a matter of life and death now.
MAP COMMENTARYLet me show you
COMMENTARYDeath is all around us these days, on our televisions, in our newspapers and on walls surrounding us everywhere. These black death notices announce the violent end of our relatives and friends.
DEath notice TRANSLATION OF DEATH BANNERThe joyous martyr Ehav has ascended to Allahs merciful hands because of a cowardly attack on 28th May 2006.
COMMENTARYWe have even invented strange names for some of these killings, one of the popular ones is ID deaths. Death squads have been killing people with Shia names in Sunni neighbourhoods and vice versa.This is when you get killed for having the wrong name or religion on your ID, let me show you
IN VISIONyou dont even know what youre supposed to do or supposed to say anymore. I am too afraid to show this on the street, this is my Iraqi ID. I dont know if I should show this if I am asked for ID because if I show my other one, the one that says Press, that is sort of like a come kidnap me card. But if I show this (Iraqi ID) I have the wrong name on it
COMMENTARYWhich means when Im out filming (PICS IN CAR) if I go to the wrong neighbourhoods I get killed.
COMMENTARYPeople get killed for the strangest reasons. The list of professions you should avoid in Iraq is getting longer and longerDid you know for example that owning a bakery shop can be lethal?
ASTONIHAB MOHAMMEDBaker THE BAKER SYNCThe bakery in Baghdad Jadida got a car bomb sent to it, not small explosive, no, a car bomb. And in the Mansour area the explosive was put inside a flour sack which was given to the baker in exchange for bread.COMMENTARYThe reason bakeries have been bombed is for selling bread to the Iraqi police or military. But most of the time it is just ordinary people who are dying. THE BAKERby Allah it is very painful to see all these innocent people die. We want to ask them why wont you let the Iraqi people have some peace?
COMMENTARYAnother career that should be avoided in Baghdad is being a barber. They were one of the earliest professions to be attacked and I had to go around 10 barbers to find one who would talk to me but would not show his face.
(no Aston wants to remain anonymous) BARBER SYNCWhy are they being killed and threatenedBecause they shave beards, that is the problem, they shave beards.
COMMENTARYIt is us Muslims and that strange obsession we have with facial hair. It seems the Big Stylist in the Sky has decided that beards are good and any one who shaves them is bad. And that is why a number of barbers have been killed.
BARBER SYNCAll Iraqis today are tired of this situation, any Iraqi on the street has to think that they could die at any momentIsnt it absurd, this targeting of barbers?There is a lot going on that we cant explain these days, not only barbers
COMMENTARYEven though he wouldnt show his face he was the only barber to agree to go on camera at all because of where his shop is located
In the Kadhimiya district. A Shia area with an important shrine in the centreINTERCUT THIS WITH PICS OF KADHmy visit to k was actually quite an eye opener, I realized what it was going to take to make a district safe in Baghdad these days. You basically have to turn it into a castle. COMMENTARY PICS MAP ON COMPUTERWhat they have done in K is to surround an area around the shrine with check points, lots of force and police all of them from the neighbourhood, a stranger would be noticed immediately
COMMENTARYPeople are more comfortable on the street I was more comfortable on the street. Usually I have a knot of fear in my stomach when I go around Karada for example which I thought was safe.
COMMENTARYThe reason theyve created this security ring is because last April an important mosque in the district here was attacked by 3 suicide bombers killing more than 60 and causing injuries to over 100 people.The suicide bombers loaded themselves with ball bearings to maximaize injuries. After that attack Shia muslims in the area feared for the Shrine and decided to create something like a fortress.So what do the people inside Kadhemyia feelBut even here, one of the safer places in Baghdad you see that cant forget the violence all around.
VOX 1I cant go to the neighbouring districts, I dont feel safe going. Just look at all the explosions and everything. But relatively speaking it is safer here.Praise to Allah! It is of course, thanks to Allah.
VOX 2 I say the last rites when I get out of the house. Everybody does. When you get out of your house in Baghdad you expect to die in an explosion or get shot.
Show list of 400 names COMMENTARYBut the thing is despite the dangers we are all still going out to work. Maybe we are getting used it it but then again you cant, we are all trying to learn to live with the constant fear.Another sector of society that is being targeted are physicians and academics. About 217 university lecturers have been killed over the last two years and recently a list of 400 list of names has been circulating and people think this is a death list.So I wanted to talk to sociologist Al Atiya, who is still teaching at Baghdad University. (ABOUT THE FEAR THEY LIVE WITH)
ASTONDR FAWIZIA AL-ATIASocioligist, Baghdad University DR AL ATIA SYNCBecause of all this fear and terror you can see this mass exodus. the professors, the physicians the young workforce
One of my MA students, his son in high school was killed 5 days ago, he had nothing to do with anything. Human beings have become worthless and life without value. We talk about Human Rights, there is no human. We are living in extraordinary circumstances.
COMMENTARYWe used to think it was like a conspiracy , in order to undermine our society but now its gone beyond that, everyone is a target Take falafel yes the stall sellers they are being targeted, so far two have been murderedAnd even ice vendors are terrified to talk on camera
ICE VENDOR VOXWhat do you want to film may god bless your parents please dont.
COMMENTARYThe whole Tae Kwon Do team was kidnapped, all of them. Two national Tennis team players and their traine werer killed in a Sunni district in BaghdadPeople think they were killed because they were wearing shorts.In most Sunni districts the term fashion crime has been given a whole new meaning. You could die for wearing the wrong thing.So to avoid any lethal fashion faux pas in Baghdad this is Salam Paxs guide What not to Wear
COLLAGE SEQUENCE PAX NOT WHAT TO WEAR BLOGGYI know all of you are really eager to spend your summer in Baghdad after this not only will you have a fabulous wardrobe but you will know how to stay alive in some of Baghdads pesky districtsWe dont know who makes these fashion rules but because thy speak with such authority I guess they must have a direct line to the great stylist in the sky. IN VISION BLOGGYLets start with rule number COMMENTARYBlue jeans have been known to get you into trouble, but tight ones will definitely get you killedShowing knees is very un-islamicIN VISIONdo you really want to get into a theological discussion about knees with someone holding a gun? Me neither!COMMENTARYColourful shirts? Please no flowery patterns and anything in red has been deemed especially offensive.And to top off your outfit, forget about your cool spikey hair style. Hair gel is a lethal I always knew hair products were evil, now I have divine confirmationAnd so here I am, on Baghdad streets modelling my special get killed outfit just for you a once and only.
IN VISIONSo you may be wondering about women, are there any restrictions as to what they wear, well yes obviously if you left it to the extremists they would rather women wore tents and not go out of the house at allCOMMENTARYSo I went to Nada Bayati a womens right activist here in Baghdad and asked her how the situation is for women today.
ASTONNADA AL-BAYATIWomens Rights activist NADA SYNCThe situation for women is getting worse by the day. Many of the armed militias that are in the street now have announced that any women not wearing Hijab will be killed, if she was wearing make-up she will be killed.
COMMENTARYIt is not only militias who are imposing this on women now the government has joined in too.
NADA SYNCA couple of days ago we were told that the ministry of transportation denied women entrance to their workplace because they were wearing make-up even though they were wearing the veil.
MAP AND MUSIC COMMENTARYThe fact is that it doesnt matter how many unveiled women or falafel vendors have been killed or not because what the rumours have successfully created is a climate of fearAnd it is a climate we all we ado worry about. On the 6th of June the health ministry released the figures of the dead for the first 6 months of this year. Baghdad mortuary had received 6000 bodies. 1400 in May alone. Let me show you the governments response.They declared almost all the Sunni areas in Baghdad as hot zones, its part of their new super special security plan. Not that it changed much, 2 days after the announcement the violence was just as bad it was before they announced their plan.
COMMENTARYThis lack of security for the last three years has left us all angry and frustrated
ASTONNADA AL-BAYATIWomens Rights activist VOX NADAPeoples lives are worthless. There are no human rights in Iraq; people are killed, slaughtered like animals.VOX MANthere is nothing cheaper than Iraqi blood. People have become numbers on news channels. Just a statistic. 20, 30 deaths has become normal
IN VISION BLOGBefore I started shooting for this video blog I was talking to one of my uncles about this whole death and value of life thing. He told me that today our lives our as valuable as an empty bullet casing left on the road after a shooting, absolutely worthless. I found a couple of empty rounds on the street the other day I keep them in my back pack with my camera as a reminder
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