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Loss of dignity and the beginning of our degradation and dishonor as a nation

07.04.03 | Images & Emotions - The account of an on looker

"The images of the horrific annihilation of civilians maybe have prompted our anger as we stared in disbelief at the faceless dead lined up in hospitals or scattered amid the slums that used to be their homes. The mind registers those as "effects" of war and power rather than individuals with names, histories and lives.

The image that made me cry since the beginning of the war was one broadcast on Al-Jazeera TV today. An Iraqi man, probably early fifties, wearing a white Abbaia, a small white hat under the red and white Kuffia without Iqal. An old sandals.

His rotund figure was on its knees as a group of British soldiers surrounded him in the middle of a busy market. His hands kept reaching out to replace the Kuffia on his head while the huge hand of a British solider kept forcing his head down. He did not speak English, thus he was not able to understand the exaggerated yells of the British solider for him to get down on all four.

He kept raising his head, trying to adjust the Kuffia and the white small hat which eventually found its way to the ground. The look on his face was one of apprehension, bewilderment, helplessness, weakness and humiliation.

The British soldier kept yelling "Shut up, Keep quiet". A bystander cried out in Arabic "He is telling you to keep your head down". The British soldiers emptied his pockets while he kept adjusting his head cover. On the ground lay some money, a pack of antibiotics, a pack of cigarettes, some papers and what looked like a pack of aspirin. He finally put his little hat back on again, the Kuffia kept sliding under the heavy -handedness of the British solider. Every time the Kuffia slipped down, a bold patch was revealed.

It was astonishing to notice his heated efforts to replace it on his naked head as if the surreal situation could be made less painful by holding on to his head dress. The fifty-year old Iraqi from Al-Zubair in the South of Iraq was finally taken with another man in a British military car. The newsbar on the screen read "British Soldiers arresting Iraqis suspected of attempting to carry out terrorist acts."

We finally catch glimpse of the Iraqi in the car, his hands tied behind his back and his head cover falling over his face because he could no longer reach out to put it back on properly.

The four-minute scene documents the humiliation of a "liberated" man but he is not dead. His old shabby Kuffia will slide down again and he would eventually lose it along with the little hat. With the loss of that Kuffia, history will register our loss of dignity and the beginning of our degradation and dishonour as a nation"



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