11 November 2004
We’ve seen no respectable press declare the fight in Falluja a holy war on both sides, but it’s hard to avoid that conclusion. With no position taken on the right or wrong of the battle, we direct your attention to the religion that the secular press reports on only in passing, as if the timing of the assault alone did not qualify it as literal spiritual war. “This is the last week of Ramadan,” reports the NYT’ Neil MacFarquhar, “when families are either out at night buying presents for the holiday that marks the end of the month of fasting, or else glued to their television sets, watching special Ramadan television serials and quiz shows.”
The NYT‘s Dexter Filkins unwittingly evokes the Spanish Civil War, when Falangist (fascist, literally) priests fired on citizens from church steeples: “After two hours of bombardment, the sniper at that mosque ceased firing. But just around the corner at the famous blue-domed Khulafah Al Rashid mosque, another sniper was pinning down marines, and airstrikes were called in on it, too. The issue of striking at mosques is so sensitive in the Arab world that the American military later issued a statement saying that the strike on the Khulafah mosque was unavoidable and that precision munitions merely knocked down a minaret.”
No mention of what Iraqi reporters say has been the apparently deliberate bombardment of more than 60 mosques.
Meanwhile, jihadis and our secular troops duel over who’re the toughest holy warriors with graffiti, “Long live the mujahedeen” painted over by Marines with “Long live the muj killers.”
An heartbreaking report in The Washington Post also recalls the Spanish Civil War, but from the perspective of the International Brigades. Yemeni taliban and cab driver “Abu Thar… might never have tried to reach Iraq… but for the photographs that emerged of U.S. military police abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. Seeing the photos, his wife, also a religious student, urged him to leave everything and go to Iraq to fight jihad. She was pregnant with their sixth child. ‘She told me if they are doing this to the men, imagine what is happening to the women now,’ Abu Thar recalled. ‘Imagine your sisters and I being raped by the infidel American pigs.’”