Ramadan Prayer — For God’s Sake, Give Them a Break

Ramadan is round the corner and I can’t help but remember Afghanistan. Leading up to the US invasion of that impoverished, but resilient nation, Fox TV as well as other media outlets speculated about the permissibility of Muslims being able to fight during the sacred month of fasting.

By Maryam Ismail

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Published: Fri 21 Aug 2009, 10:10 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 12:47 AM

It was almost as if the Congress was ready to ignore Ramadan as a holy month, or better yet, take it as a chance to catch the Taleban at their weakest moment. Holy had nothing to do with it. When it comes to war, especially, with the US, nothing is ever sacred.

In the first years of invasions of Afghanistan and later, Iraq, the propaganda in the news was like a typhoon, raining down on us. Now that the winds have subsided, it looks that a whole lot of other stuff was getting twisted around in the media glut that told us this was about democracy and freedom, and that it wasn’t a crusade against Islam. First it was the Rock ’em Sock ‘em revenge on the Taleban who refused to give up Osama bin Laden. Next, it somehow took two steps backward, to Iraq, where the hysteria of the moment was that there were hordes of chemical weapons targeting the US, and then of course, those poor Kurds yearning to breathe free.

Reading ‘Naked in Baghdad: The Iraq war’ as seen by National Public Radio’s correspondent, Anne Garrels, who was one of the embedded reporters in Baghdad during the beginning of the Iraq invasion, it seems that no one knew exactly what they were getting into.

To her, Saddam’s regime, and I would think, the Iraqis, too, were just another enemy. She often compares them to Nazis and Soviets. The regular people that she meets are just a means to a story. They too, she seems to think, are willing accomplices in the horror of their own making.

Her account of the events during those early days of invasion of Iraq read like an outdated, misguided farce. If only it was just that. The real tragedy is that Garrels reminds me of an episode of a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, which had its own set of bad guys; Boris and Natasha, two bumbling Russian spies whom Rocky and Bullwinkle unwittingly ruin their plots to destroy America—if only the US military was so blessed. The war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan has taken more force, power, and money than anyone could have imagined. It is because of a new twist of journalistic trade winds, that we are finally learning how much effort.

The alternative media has moved in on the rest of the world. The complete antithesis of Garrels is independent reporter Jeremy Scahill, a writer with a vengeance. When I first saw an interview with him on Democracynow.org, I thought, “What is with this guy?” He spoke with an urgency that I couldn’t understand. He was all about this company called Blackwater Inc, a security company, which supplied the private military forces for the war in Iraq. This company was still a secret, but it came out with the murder of several of its workers in Fallujah.

Scahill’s books, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, outlines the details, facts, and secrets surrounding the creation of Blackwater, its founder, and the empire that has led to its creation.

Scahill reports that with its connections to the Amway empire, the Christian right and carte blanche to do whatever it wanted in Iraq, the waters surrounding Blackwater got increasingly murky.

The company’s role in the Iraq war was to provide support and in doing so, it ended up committing one massacre, in particular, of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisr Square. It was the pinnacle of the horror that upset Scahill the most.

Finally, he and his tirade against Blackwater has been vindicated with the coming forward of some insiders from the security company stating that not only was Blackwater’s mission to kill Iraqis with impunity, but to erase Islam from the Middle East.

As the spin of the past eight years unravels, it seems that the stories coming out of Iraq, the imaginations of many a filmmaker was right on point in looking what has happened in the entire sphere of everything that had to do with the Iraq war.

‘The Valley of the Wolves: Iraq’, the most expensive film in the history of the Turkish film industry, sent off so many bells, that it was banned in the US. If we just follow the news, it looks like that these far-fetched scenarios are really closer to reality.

The American actor, Billy Zane, played Sam William Marshall, a military crusader who had the mission to Christianise the Middle East. The obvious is often lost on most of us. Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, had me flabbergasted as I listened to the author tell his experiences with the Christian fundamentalists in in Washington. Bush said he misspoke, when he said that the strike of revenge for the 9/11 attacks was a crusade.

And here we have another whirl of spin. One might ask, why is Sharlet going after these guys? I would say that it’s his Jewishness that puts him on the opposite pole of the fundamentalists who say that all Jews who don’t convert will be sent to hell. Or, perhaps, not, he claims that all fundamentalists are dangerous. Perhaps. I hope that his main motivation is getting the truth out and to pull the strings that help unravel the carpet that the global war on terror is flying on and send it crashing to the ground. Calling everybody home and end to the killing and destruction. This is my prayer this Ramadan.

Maryam Ismail is a Sharjah-based sociologist. She can be reached at maryam@journalist.com

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