On the Edge and Unwanted...



Raouf finally made it to Syria. For those of you who do not know Raouf's story , please read a Postcard from Iraq.

At first, he tried Damascus. An old small "hotel" in the Sayyida Zeinab neighborhood, run by an Iraqi Shia, who turned the lobby into a Husseinya once a week.(Husseinya means a religious gathering for rememberance of the Imams Al- Hassan and Al- Hussein).

The hotel owner kept preaching to Raouf about the problem with the "nawasib" i.e Sunnis. Every morning he was reminding him that if only the Sunnis praised Ahl Al Bayt (which they do), everything will be ok. And if only the Sunnis accepted that Imam Ali was the real inheritor of the Khilafat then all will be ok. And if only Aisha (the wife of the prophet) was not such a traitor, then all of this would have not happened. And if only Abu Bakr, Othman and Omar were not such hypocrites, then all of this would not be taking place...

Raouf is patient by nature and he really does not give two hoots about these divisions.
But his last ordeal in Baghdad left him fragile and vulnerable. He could no longer take this daily sermon that bordered on threats...He was becoming restless and anxious all the time and could no longer tolerate the hotel owner and his preaching.

After all he had received his share of religious brainwashing from his torturers who would take breaks and go and pray and sing devotional songs in between then resume their torture sessions on Raouf...

He decided to move to another city where rents were less expensive and away from sectarians. Who can blame him, the poor man is traumatized for life.

Besides, Iraqis are really not wanted in Syria, in particular in Damascus.
The Syrians constantly complain about their presence. It is because of the Iraqis that crime rates have doubled. It is because of the Iraqis that corruption exists. It is because of the Iraqis that prices have increased. It is because of the Iraqis that services are slow and inefficient...It is because of the Iraqis that Damascus is overcrowded and polluted...

A few Syrians not knowing that I, too, belong to the untouchable, unwanted ones, told me that everything has gone down the drains because of the Iraqis...

" It is not their fault if the Syrians are anting up the prices. After all they are making profits no ? Why blame the Iraqis for Syrian greed ? " I said.
The Syrian replied : " I guess you are right. After all the government is getting money from the UN agency. And many Syrians have made heaps of money because of the Iraqis. But still, the Iraqis are a cumbersome lot. "

I witnessed Syrian greed. If a taxi ride usually costs 50 liras, for an Iraqi it is 150 liras. A bag of rice costs 35 liras, for an Iraqi it is charged 50 liras. A shirt costs 300 liras for an Iraqi it is 600 Liras. Everything is doubled, tripled. As for rents, they are quadrupled for Iraqis.

Back to Raouf...

He moved to another city. Finally found a so called "furnished" apartment on the top of a building with no elevator. It consists of one bed room, one living room and a bathroom. The rent is exorbitant for Raouf but Raouf has no choice.

This apartment is the most insalubrious, squalid, filthy place he has ever seen.
The sofa is eaten up by moths. The curtains in shreds. The mattress and the sheets have not been changed since the Ummayad period. The bathroom is covered with slime and grime. And the so called crockery - plates, pots, pans are not even fit for feeding animals. The teapot is an antiquarian piece - so rusty that the water turns yellow - a great piece for the antiquities museum.

But the worst, are all those unwanted visitors - cockroaches. The place is full of them.

Raouf with his swollen bruised ankles, unable to wear shoes. Raouf with his broken ribs unable to carry anything. Raouf with his dislocated shoulder unable to move his arm. Raouf with a partial paralysis in his hand unable to hold anything for a long time...would walk daily for one hour to the souk (taxis are too expensive for him) and buy sheets, crockery, curtains, detergents, paints, and of course plants...
Then he would carry daily three bags full up 6 floors to his " furnished apartment. "

This went on for about 10 days. He cleaned, painted, brushed, polished, fixed...the place to make it liveable. And everytime he was overwhelmed with pain, he would comfort himself by saying " At least am alive and away from Iraq."

When Raouf's wife learned that Syrian visas were to be issued to Iraqis on the 10th of September, she caught a bus on the 8th of September at 6.30 am and finally arrived to Syria on the 9th of September at 11.30 pm. Endless rows of buses and endless queues at the border before the 10th. Her trip from Baghdad to Damascus took over 24 hours. But she too is grateful she made it away from hell.

When Raouf learned that his residency will not be renewed after the initial three months period, he was gripped with a terrible anxiety.

Throughout his ordeal, Raouf never cried, never screamed... Even his torturers were surprised and asked him what kind of human being he was. They told him : " Another man would have died but you did not even utter a sound - you are not normal."

Raouf replied that he had totally surrendered and whatever they wish to do to him, is fine with him. " I am in God's hands " he would say.
" You in God's hands ? Because you know God ? We saw you wearing shorts inside your house and we saw a can of beer outside. "
And they would beat and flog him some more,until his skin fell off, keeping him blindfolded and chained in a bathroom for 5 days with no water and no food...And threatening to murder him, burn him or behead him daily. At one point they were three of them with three sharp knives on his jugular about to go into his throat...Raouf did not utter a sound.

But when Raouf learned that he might be forced to return to Iraq in two months time, he screamed like a wild animal. He cried like he has never cried before and his anxiety attacks would take hold of him for days on end.
After his torture ordeal Raouf had partial memory blackouts...But after hearing that he might have to return to Iraq, all the images came back flooding his memory.
Today Raouf cannot be left alone for one hour. He simply goes mad with the flashbacks.

He said : " I would rather commit suicide than go back to Iraq. Iraq is over for me. Iraq is no longer my home. I do not miss it. I just miss my family and my neighbors and my garden. I would rather die than go back. " And Raouf means it.

UNHCR is filled with case upon case similar to Raouf's. They are all going crazy at the idea of returning to hell.

But it seems that the Syrian authorities want the Iraqis out.
I made it a point to peruse daily their newspapers, they are very kind and "soft" towards Al-Maliki. I also noticed a lot of Farsee being spoken in Damascus. A detail.


Goodness, am at loss. Raouf is one story. But there are so many others. I do not even know where to begin the list.

There is Ahmad. A Phd in Microbiology, worked as a masseur for a while and is now unemployed. There is Noora and Hanan not older than 17, despite the heavy make up, working as call girls in hotels. There is Wassim, a Phd in Electrical Engineering working in the black as a technician repairing Air Conditioners. There is Sana a high school student, standing in the streets selling combs and bubble gums...
They are crammed up to 10 in one room. There are the sick ones, the amputated ones, those in wheel chairs...The tragedy is endless. The despair is endless...

But they are all unanimous. They would rather die than go back to Iraq. And they all agree that Iraq is no more. For them, and from what they have seen, witnessed, and experienced, Iraq is finished. And I agree with them.

If the Syrian authorities force them to leave where will they go ? What will happen to them ?
In Syria they hardly have any future. In Iraq, they will be something of the past.

And the International "Community" is still watching, with amused detachment, those unwanted ones about to be pushed off the edge and into the abyss of no return.


Painting : Iraqi female artist, Sawsan Al Sarraf. "Immigration"

Comments

Anonymous said…
Only the devil himself would claim the Iraq invasion as a success.

I hesitate to say Ramadham kareem to you because it seems like such an empty statement given all thats going on. May He bless you and your love ones with his blessings, mercy and protection in abundance.

Peace
Layla Anwar said…
Hi Navcity.
Ramadan Kareem to you too. Ramadan each year feels emptier for me. Talk of loss of meaning - I qualify. Is there a remedy for that?
Anonymous said…
"It is because of the Iraqis that crime rates have doubled. It is because of the Iraqis that corruption exists. It is because of the Iraqis that prices have increased. It is because of the Iraqis that services are slow and inefficient...It is because of the Iraqis that Damascus is overcrowed and polluted..."

Tell the broken-assed Persian-loving bourgeois scum that it is precisely because of the Iraqis - of their heroic armed resistance which is bleeding the US Beast to death - that their Syria will most probably escape being invaded in turn, destroyed, depopulated and finally annexed to the State of Zion as originally planned.
Anonymous said…
Ramadan kareem, Layla. I am glad to hear that Raouf managed to get out, but, yes, things aren't any better on the other side although his life has been spared. I also saw a documentary on TV where Iraqis are facing the same treatment of resentment, etc., in Egypt. As you very correctly say: 'the International community is watching with amused detachment..' coupled with lies of 'success', as announced by the black house, being achieved in Iraq.

I tend to agree with 'Can't stand ingratitude'above: the fruits of the bravery and sacrifice of IRAQI Resistance will be felt throughout the region - and it is the ONLY reason why occupiers, despite the destruction and bloodshed, have not managed to gain an inch of Iraq...and never will.

Wishing you blessings during this time, Layla.
Angel said…
Hi Layla,

I think I must have watched the same documentary as Little Deer, or maybe another. There are so many others.

These documentaries all basically say the same thing, but nobody does anything about anything.

I doubt they are amused by what it happening in Iraq, and to Iraqi's.
They lack the courage to stand up and be counted as opposing the USA.

Opposition to the USA could render these countries as enemies. Remember Bush saying, you're either with me or you are against me?

Who, in their right mind would oppose them now and risk everything? They only have to take a look at the tragedy that is Iraq, to back off.

Not to forget, the US has the largest nuclear arsenel in the world, and they are very self-righteous.

I don't know what the answer is for you, me, Iraq, or the hundreds of thousands of Raouf's.

Stay safe.

PS Did I post half a comment? Got interrupted.
Anonymous said…
Thank you, Layla. As a Yugoslav refugee, I experienced similar grief as they dismantled my country into pseudo-ethnic fragments and as I was moved from one country to another, always being given a few months at a time. I even envied animals in European zoos, and I envied the dead.

I wish there were a concrete way to help. I can only send my best wishes and my love to Iraqis. Try to survive, because otherwise those genocidal bastards will have won.
Anonymous said…
Ramadan kareem, beautiful sister-warrior :-)
Anonymous said…
I read your blog and appreciate learning what you know about the situation. Please keep writing. I wish more people were listening.
You might like this song.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt2rUc1r_MU Is it for Freedom by Sara Thomsen. I like it.
Thank you Layla.
Anonymous said…
Layla, is that just my impression or is your "discourse" slowly, almost imperceptibly changing colors ?

I mean, you are still "against" the same things as ever, but it feels like you were in the process of introducing your public to new things you have become "for" - or maybe have been all the time, waiting for times to be "ripe" to reveal them, as if following a script...

If I am mistaken, please forgive me for being suspicious: the "Web", you know, is such a wild jungle...

Best regards.
Bloody hell :(

Why would anyone ever want to live in Iraq now.

It's :( :( :(
Anonymous said…
not sure why so much credit is being given to the 'iraqi resistance'. They are the ones destroying Iraq and killing Iraqi's. It's not like they're stopping America, because they can leave. Then who are you going to blame?
Anonymous said…
jr has gone to another Iraqi womans blog.
Anonymous said…
From Layla Anwar's profile:
"I live in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Egypt simultaneously."

What on earth do you mean by "simultaneously" ?

Do you travel at the speed of light, like meteors, or do you have the gift of ubiquity, like some romanticized Christian saints or the Al-CIAda bogeymen ?

In either case, for being a patriotic Iraqi woman moving around the Zionified and U.S. vassal Middle-Eastern countries, you seem to be reserved quite a privileged treatment...

How would you explain that to yourself (and us) ?
Layla Anwar said…
Salam Muslimah,

Ramadan Kareem to you Sister.
Layla Anwar said…
Hello Little Deer,

Thank you for your good wishes.
I have not seen that documentary, pity...mind you it is probably the same shit that goes on in Damascus and Amman.
Regards.
Layla Anwar said…
Hi Angel,

Today I read the confirmation by a new study in Britain stating that over 1 Million Iraqis are dead. I've been saying that all along. Some say that over 4 million Iraqis are exiled outside of Iraq. I bet you anything, the data will come out soon and prove that figure. Give it another 6 months.
By then a few other thousands would have been killed.
I frankly don't think the International Community gives a damn. After all they did rush for Darfur and found a settlement there. Darfur is politically correct, we are not. So yes they are watching very amused.
Take care
Layla Anwar said…
Hello Una and thank you for your comment. It really touched me since you have experienced exactly what Iraqis are going through. You know...and knowing is different from understanding.
When you said I even envied animals in a European zoo, I choked...I have heard that statement so often...It feels as if am being slapped back into an insecapable reality.

Survival is the only skill left...
regards to you
Layla Anwar said…
Anonymous and the song,

Thank you for the link and Regards to you.
Layla Anwar said…
Anonymous and the Resistance.

You are not sure why credit is given to the Rsistance?
My, limited are we?
America is supposedly the mightiest power on earth, and in Iraq after 4 years, it is still building walls to control a neighborhood...
Keep wondering ...
Layla Anwar said…
thinking ? being ?

You must be an American. Americans are known for their litteralism...
Besides I owe you NOTHING.
It always amazes me when someone leaves an anonymous comment with a pseudo and dares wonders who I really am...The height of idiocy and arrogance.
Layla Anwar said…
Just received this - kind of cute and very ACCURATE.
I dedicate it to the "great" American nation (hahahahaha)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnlMnf7t4t4
Layla Anwar said…
j.thompson,

What do you expect me to reply?
I can't change your conspiratorial frame of mind.
You have already made up your mind about what I stand for and now you are searching for the "cues" to prove your theory...
The worst kind of empiricism applied to the web.
Regards.
Anonymous said…
"You must be an American."

Wrong. Irish.

"Besides I owe you NOTHING."

I just hope you owe NOBODY ELSE anything either...

"and dares wonder who I really am..."

No way in hell I can ever wonder who you "really" are. Do you know any mortal who can honestly say he/she knows who he/she really is ? All I inquired was what that absurd statement in your profile is supposed to mean and how come you are free to move as you like and respected by everyone whereas your fellow-exiles are, in your own words, "on the edge and unwanted".

But then if you MUST play the Mystery Woman...
Anonymous said…
JR is Layla's Majnun !
Anonymous said…
"thinking being" u muppet r u implying that layla is not who she appears 2 be ???
Anonymous said…
"JR is Layla's Majnun !"

so what ? r u jealous ?
Anonymous said…
thinking being [sic],

I understand now how the Brutish were able to colonize your country for so long. It's because of your ilk.

Americanness is a state of mind, and you're in the midst of it. So leave the rest of us alone.
YoUnicorn said…
Dear Layla

I am ok thank you
take good care of yourself !

I love your reply to whoever
*thinking being* is
I have understood what you meant
since forever !!! you are so right.
Is understood when we use more than our selective mind.
Great reply !!

Bless you
Much love
Abracadabra4 said…
I know to you I will sound like an arrogant, stupid, foolish American. Still I felt compelled to write a comment, not only for yourself but for the countless other middle eastern women writing their stories and hardships on blogs. While reading your's and others' I have finally come to the realization that I do in fact live in " la la land ". Sure as a young American woman I see and hear the news about the War in Iraq. What is the news but propaganda anyway? Through these blogs you women have opened my eyes to what really is going on. When I read over my own blog I feel my major issues in life are insignificant and selfish compared to what you go through everyday. I really appreciate you illuminating the situation through your own words.
Best Regards
Anonymous said…
Layla=Shirly Ardell Mason.

I like the fiesty one!

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