February 02, 2005

Reclaiming the Word 'Martyr'

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Salim Yacoubi bent over to kiss the purple ink stain on his twin brother's right index finger, gone cold with death.

"You can see the finger with which he voted," Shukur Jasim, a friend of the dead man, said as he cast a tearful gaze on the body, sprawled across a washer's concrete slab. "He's a martyr now."

[...]

"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."

[...]

In the dusty lot outside the washing rooms, another family strapped a coffin holding the body of a policeman, Adil al-Nassar, onto the roof of a blue minivan. He had just been cleaned. Now it was time to take him to the golden-domed Shrine of Ali for his final blessings. He was not the first policeman to be brought here.

Officer Nassar, 40, died after tackling a man who had leapt into a line of women waiting to vote at Osama bin Zaid Primary School, said Kadhum al-Hashim, the officer's father-in-law.

"There were many people, and Adil was just guiding the voters into the school when the terrorist jumped into the line of women," Mr. Hashim said. Several others died in the explosion, he added.

The victim's brother, Muhammad al-Nassar, wiped away tears with a white scarf.

Adil al-Nassar had joined the new police force just a year ago, his brother said. He had a family to feed: a wife and three children, the eldest an 8-year-old son.

"He's a martyr now," Mr. Nassar said. "He saved many lives for the greater good."

(By Edward Wong, New York Times)
Posted by Jeremy Brown at February 2, 2005 08:05 AM
Comments

What a moving and profound article.
Thanks

Posted by: dougf at February 2, 2005 08:47 AM

Awesome story, thanks Jeremy. Some heroic figures over there.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 2, 2005 08:47 AM

That really is a good piece, isn't it. I just now added the reporter's byline at the bottom. It was strange to have my name on top of that as if I'd written it. One of the complexities of guest blogging.

Posted by: Jeremy Brown at February 2, 2005 08:55 AM

That story really sort of puts you back in your place.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 2, 2005 09:18 AM

Jeremy - Thanks for posting this - and it's such an appropriate title. The word martyr does need to be reclaimed

Posted by: mary at February 2, 2005 09:39 AM

Now its time to reclaim the word "minutemen" from the likes of Michael Moore.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at February 2, 2005 10:36 AM

As Rev. Donald Sensing notes, Marines get the Medal of Honor for saving lives in such a way. I hope that the Iraqi government honors them, and that we do so as well.

A man who saves civilian lives by sacrificing himself to stop a bomber-- that's a true hero.

Posted by: John Thacker at February 2, 2005 01:56 PM

Can the US award medals to foreign nationals? (Actually, just did a little googling and found that Simon Wiesenthal was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- it seems to me President Bush might want to consider awarding one to Adil al-Nassar. Just an idea.)

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 2, 2005 04:06 PM

Can the US award medals to foreign nationals?

Yes it can. The US has awarded 30 bronze stars to Canadians for their service in Afghanistan, including to a Canadian sniper team who saved an American company who were pinned down by fire from al Qaeda forces.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 2, 2005 04:23 PM

That gives me chills.

Will this spirit defeat the madrassahs of hate?

Posted by: Bleeding heart conservative at February 2, 2005 11:21 PM

Great story.

Great spirit. As said (by Caroline? Mary?) in another thread -- the Iraqi people OWN this election.

As I've said about (no) Help for Iraqi People -- the Iraqis will ONLY get freedom when they are willing to die for it, kill for it; and even be willing to kill innocents for it (possibly including journalists) as non-targeted collateral damage.

The Iraqi National Police are likely to start making great gains against the anti-Iraqi death squads.

By next year, almost "everybody" in Iraq will be claiming that they voted -- it will be part of their pride (and those who didn't vote WILL be shamed, so will become liars.).

It would be good to start having more municipal elections in the Sunni areas, so more Sunnis have more opportunities to vote -- and won't be total liars for saying "Yes, I voted in 2005".

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 3, 2005 01:09 AM

Jeremy

Still cranking it out? Now its the bloody human interest story!!! :-)

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