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March 20, 2003

A human voice from Baghdad
Posted by Teresa at 08:07 AM *

This isn’t exactly news in the blogging world, but just to remind those who’ve forgotten, and inform those who missed it the first time around, there’s a very good weblog being written in Baghdad: Where is Raed?. It’s that simple and transforming thing, a human voice, unstoppable as water. Here’s from yesterday:

A couple of weeks ago journalists were exasperated by that fact that Iraqis just went on with their lives and did not panic, well today there is a very different picture. It is actually a bit scary and very disturbing. To start wit the Dinar hit another low, 3100 dinars per dollar. There was no exchange place open. If you went and asked they just look at you as if you were crazy. Wherever you go you see closed shops and it is not just doors-locked closed but sheet-metal-welded-on-the-front closed, windows-removed-and-built-with-bricks closed, doors were being welded shut. There were trucks loaded with all sort of stuff being taken from the shops to wherever their owner had a secure place. Houses which are still being built are having huge walls erected in front of them with no doors, to make sure they don’t get used as barracks I guess. Driving thru Mansur, Harthiya or Arrasat is pretty depressing. Still me, Raed and G. went out to have our last lunch together.

The radio plays war songs from the 80’s non-stop. We know them all by heart. Driving thru Baghdad now singing along to songs saying things like “we will be with you till the day we die Saddam” was suddenly a bit too heavy, no one gave that line too much thought but somehow these days it sounds sinister. Since last night one of the most played old “patriotic” songs is the song of the youth “al-fituuwa”, it is the code that all fidayeen should join their assigned units. And it is still being played.

A couple of hours earlier we were at a shop and a woman said as she was leaving, and this is a very common sentence, “we’ll see you tomorrow if god keeps us alive”—itha allah khalana taibeen—and the whole place just freezes. She laughed nervously and said she didn’t mean that, and we all laughed but these things start having a meaning beyond being figures of speech.
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