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A Direct Attack On Free Thought
Some brainwashed primitive gave his life to blow up Mutanabi, the Baghdad book mart. Sumana Raychaudhuri and Saswato Das write in the LA Times:

The symbolism was clear: The suicide car-bomber wanted to strike at the heart of Iraq's intellectual life.

Nearly four years ago, looters rampaged through the Iraq National Museum, set fire to the National Archives in Baghdad and burned down the Koranic library at the Ministry of Religious Endowment shortly after that. Priceless books and documents, letters from Ottoman and other Arabic courts, the written records of a thousand years or more, went up in smoke. And now this.

Mutanabi, named after a famous 10th century Arab poet, was once one of the grandest bazaars of knowledge, a place where books, old and new, on science, law, literature and religion were stocked in abundance. It had become a shadow of its former self in war-torn Baghdad. The supply of foreign books and magazines had been cut off.

Yet somehow it had managed to carry on. Beleaguered and now indigent Iraqis often disposed of rare, century-old books in Persian and Arabic from family collections, and many a foreign visitor picked up priceless volumes for a pittance. Afterward, surely some of those visitors whiled away hours at the nearby Shah Bandar cafe, a coffeehouse frequented by Iraqi intellectuals that was also obliterated Monday.

Neither the ordinary Shiite nor the typical Sunni gain anything by this fanatical act of destruction, which took away a resource from Iraqis and from the Arab world at large. This wasn't a strike against a particular sect but an attack on free thought.

It is clear that the bombing that left a 20-foot-wide crater was targeted at those who think, read or are interested in learning. Books and libraries have been burned through the ages, starting with the destruction of the great library of Alexandria, to the purges of knowledge ordered by Cisneros and Savonarola in the 15th century, to more modern bonfires of the vanities by the likes of Mao, Pol Pot and the Taliban.

The terrorists who are fighting for control of Iraq realize that freedom of expression and learning are their enemies. Why else would anyone give his life to obliterate thousands of books, manuscripts and magazines?

Posted by aalkon at March 13, 2007 9:14 AM


Islam - the history eraser.

Posted by: brian at March 13, 2007 4:14 AM

Brian, are you in LA now?

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2007 4:41 AM

In grade school we used to joke about burning the shool down.

An acquaintance who does business in the middle east always remarks how the people he deals with seem to be stuck in an adolescent boy mentality. That area appears to be Lord of the Flies writ large.

Posted by: doombuggy at March 13, 2007 4:46 AM

Well, you have to remember all these little formalities that can cause a major slight to a person, family or tribal honor. From which hand to wash first to which way a person enters a home. Do you enter left or right foot first? Many times, when my Arabic wasn't so good... I had to use the 'sharmute' (Arabic for fool or bastard) excuse for my slights and insults.

Posted by: Joe at March 13, 2007 5:03 AM

Crid- I've only been in LA twice in my life, and only a week at a time each.

I live on the East Coast - Connecticut to be precise. Where it will almost be warm and dry enough to dig out my motorcycle this week.

Posted by: brian at March 13, 2007 6:40 AM

OK, different Brian. Never mind...

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2007 7:00 AM

I was in Connecticutt last month, and my ears froze over and chipped off. Let me know if you see them lying somewhere in the streets of New Haven, Brian.

Posted by: Lena at March 13, 2007 7:09 AM

These types of events just make me wonder what the fuck is wrong with people.

Posted by: justin case at March 13, 2007 7:43 AM

The main reason for the violence in Iraq is not over religion or free thought, but tribal dominance over the non Kurdish areas of Iraq.

Terrorism is a symbolic act of violence. It says: "look at me!" or "pay attention!" The Mutanabi book mart is a symbol of learning and gathering place for the intelligentsia of Baghdad. The intelligentsia could be the people close to the US forces, members of the post Hussein government and the people who want calm and order restored.

The Shias are in the position based on numbers and organization to subjugate the Sunnis. The Sunnis need chaos more than the Shias. Also, the Sunnis will try to get the neighboring Sunni dominated Arab nations involved too. Its all a matter on which tribe gives up first. That will be the first part of the civil war. The second part will involve the Kurds and the Shias with Iran being a much larger player.

Posted by: Joe at March 13, 2007 8:30 AM

The Kurds want nothing to do with the Sunnis or Shiites. But I think you are correct on the Saudi connection, to be followed by the Iran clan... everyone thinks they will win if they just get their buddy involved.

Posted by: eric at March 13, 2007 9:00 PM

The Kurds will commit a premptive attack on a weaken Shia controlled areas of Iraq. The biggest threat to a semi-independent Kurdistan is a majority controlled Shia areas along with Iran being the main backer.

Iran is more threatened by an independent Kurdistan, because of their own Iranian-Kurds and it halts their Greater Persia Policy and control of the pipeline from the Central Asian states through Iran-Southern Iraq into Syria ending in Damascus.

Of course my guess is 5 years in the future.

Posted by: Joe at March 13, 2007 9:24 PM

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