February 2, 2005


Iraqis Who Died While Daring to Vote Are Mourned as Martyrs (EDWARD WONG, 2/02/05, NY Times)

The victims of election day violence are being hailed by many Iraqis as the latest martyrs in a nearly two-year-long insurgency that has claimed the lives of thousands. They were policemen who tried to stop suicide bombers from entering polling centers, children who walked with elderly parents to cast votes, or - in the case of Mr. Yacoubi - a fishmonger who, after voting, took tea from his house to electoral workers at the school.

At polling centers hit by explosions, survivors refused to go home, steadfastly waiting to cast their votes as policemen swept away bits of flesh.

Shiite Arabs, oppressed under the rule of Saddam Hussein, turned out to vote in large numbers, and those who died in the attacks are being brought now to the sprawling cemetery in Najaf, this holiest of Shiite cities, for burials considered fitting of their sacrifices.

The official cause of death on Mr. Yacoubi's death certificate reads, "Explosion on the day of elections."

As the body washer sponged Mr. Yacoubi on Tuesday, blood as dark as the ink on his finger ran from cuts in the back of his head. Four wailing brothers clutched at the body. A group of women in full-length black keened outside.

"All of us talked about the elections," said Hadi Aziz, a 60-year-old neighbor. "We were waiting impatiently for this day so we could finally rid ourselves of all our troubles. Naim was just like any Iraqi who hoped for a better future for Iraq, who wanted stability for Iraq. We hoped that after the elections, the American forces would withdraw from our country."

Two days before the vote, the portly Mr. Yacoubi, a father of nine, drove with his friend Mr. Jasim to Khadimiya, a Shiite neighborhood, to have a new robe made for the occasion, Mr. Jasim said.

On Sunday, he got up at dawn. "He was very proud, and he put perfume on himself and gave out pastries and tea," Mr. Jasim said.

At 8:30, Mr. Yacoubi walked to the local primary school to cast his vote, Mr. Jasim said. He was frisked by policemen as he stood in line. Inside one of the classrooms, he checked off box No. 169 on the national ballot, for a slate of candidates backed by the most revered Shiite cleric in Iraq.

Then, impressed by the dedication of the election workers, Mr. Yacoubi went home to boil tea for them, Mr. Jasim said. He had dropped off the tea glasses and was walking away when the bomb went off.

"It's not the man who exploded himself who's a martyr," Mr. Jasim said as the body washer wiped away dried blood. "He wasn't a true Muslim. This is the martyr. What religion asks people to blow themselves up? It's not written in the Koran."

Mr. Aziz, the neighbor, nodded.

"This is the courage of Iraqis," he said of Mr. Yacoubi's decision to vote, "and we will change the face of history. This is our message to the countries of the world, especially those that are still under a dictatorship and want to walk the same road as the Iraqis."

It's not just those under dictatorship who need to hear the message but the Western Left as well.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 2, 2005 8:39 AM

-- What religion asks people to blow themselves up? ---

If they had explosives then.....

Posted by: Sandy P at February 2, 2005 1:35 PM

The dictators fear; the dullard left sneers.

Posted by: LUCIFEROUS at February 2, 2005 7:05 PM