February 2, 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 8:05 AM
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