Posted by: LucidMystery | February 23, 2009

Horrified Tears

A young woman walks alongside a busy street in Baghdad, Iraq. She is shrouded head to toe in a traditional burqa, blending in to her daily scene perfectly well. Nothing out of the ordinary. Suddenly, just as a car is about go by her, everything explodes! The car, the woman, straggler basket and fruit stands from the market back down the street–everything is lost is fiery blast.

This scene was played on the news last night. After the video was taken, somehow it was learned that the woman was a suicide bomber, coerced into her final role because women are typically not searched by the police and can thus carry out such a task undetected until ther last obvious moment. The purpose of the segment was to show that this doesn’t happen as often anymore and to show how much better life has gotten for Iraqi women in the past few years. Non-Muslim women are not forced to dress in burqas and many more women are taking up careers, learning how to drive cars, getting better educations. Along with that, fewer women are kidnapped and/or forced into suicide bombing.

I know the point of the segment was to highlight this progress, but I could barely pay attention after the image of the blast. That clip showed on national tv had just shown a woman dying. Her last few seconds walking down the street, the abrupt end to her life, the blast debris falling around where she had just stood. I’m not sure what happened, but after that segment, I stared blankly at the screen for a few moments. And then I cried; but I didn’t just cry, I was beyond crying. I couldn’t stop! Who was she? Did she have a family? Did her parents know what happened to her? Did she volunteer or did someone make her do it?

I know we see people “die” in movies all the time; we’ve gotten pretty desensitized to anything horrific we might see on tv because we see even more disturbing images from Hollywood. But this woman wasn’t an actress. No director will yell “Cut!” and she’ll magically pop up and go back to her starting place to try it again. I don’t know what bothered me more, the fact that this really happened or that so many people just watched those few seconds, blinked or shook their heads, and then kept on eating tv dinners.

Good heavens, I don’t even know when that video was filmed, and I was thousands of miles away whenever it happened. But still, 24 hours later, I can’t get the images out of my head. Am I freaked out because it showed a person dying? Is it the fear for other women, probably in my age bracket? What if she had been someone like me? 23 years old and the potential for a long life ahead until someone forced her to give all that up. But, then again, maybe that’s what she didn’t have. Maybe she couldn’t see her potential and thought the only way to make a difference was this final and radical act. Or maybe she was doing it because someone told her that her God/Allah needed this sacrifice from her. I don’t know those details, and I never will. I wish I had never seen those few seconds; that’s all it was, a few seconds. But maybe I needed to have my safe little American bubble prodded. The product of Cornfields and Suburbia, USA, I could never fully understand what that woman faced; but that’s no excuse to be ignorant of what is happening in the world around me.

I guess I don’t know what grand point I was trying to make with this post. Something about the fragility of life, the immunity of our emotions, or the gift of never having been faced with whatever decision was in front of her. So if I can’t bring about a brilliantly philosophical ending, you do it. What do you think about this situation?


  1. I have to wonder about our media’s bias. If that was an American woman, dressed in “normal” clothes instead of a burqa, would they have shown her committing suicide on national TV? I doubt it. What about this Iraqi woman makes her less human? She is still a person. Her dignity should still have been protected. Her death should not have been displayed. We don’t do that with our own citizens.


  2. That’s a good point. Or maybe because we couldn’t see her face, just a long dress, hood and veil, which still isn’t an excuse.

    It still makes me shudder.


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