Monday, March 12, 2007

Mohammed Hayawi

While we know the names of each and every U.S. soldier who has died in Iraq, the names of killed Iraqi civilians are rarely recorded. Some organizations such as try to put a number on the tragedy, but rarely are they able to put a face on it.

It is with this in mind that I would like to point you to this article by Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post. Shadid is one of those journalists who dares to venture outside the Green Zone to capture the realities of everyday life in Iraq. Today he writes of Mohammed Hayawi, an Iraqi bookseller whose life ended far too soon:
After the invasion and the government's fall, Hayawi described himself much as other Iraqis did in that first uncertain year: as neither for Saddam nor happy with the Americans. He was angry, of course -- at the chaos, the insecurity, the lack of electricity.

"The American promises to Iraq are like trying to hold water in your hand," he told me in one conversation. "It spills through your fingers."

But he was never strident; he was filled with a thoughtfulness and reflection that survival in Iraq rarely permits these days.

Hayawi resented the occupation but voted in the elections the United States backed. He was a devout Muslim, but feared the rise of religion in politics. In his bookstore, once-banned titles by Shiite clerics, imported from Iran, vied with books by radical Sunni clerics, among them Muhammad Abdel-Wahab, the 18th-century godfather of Saudi Arabia's brand of Islam. Profit may have inspired his eclectic mix, but Hayawi also seemed to be making a statement: Mutanabi Street, his Baghdad and his Iraq would respect their diversity.

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