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Iraq: Between Fact and Fiction - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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More than three thousand Iraqis have been killed since the beginning of the year. In Baghdad, a thousand people lost their lives in April alone.

Carelessness appears to dominate our reactions to the events and images from Iraq, which have exceeded everyone’s imagination.

As we follow Iraqi events, we see reality on our TV screens and read about it in the newspapers and on the internet. On another level, however, a reality, which the television screens cannot portray, is left to our own terrifying imagination to absorb.

In the tragic murder of our colleague Atwar Bahjat, fact and fiction came together.

Even though Al Arabiya denied that images of Bahjat’s torture were shown on numerous websites, the woman who had washed Atwar’s corpse told Al Arabiya itself that there were signs of torment all over her body. Therefore, it is clear that the young Iraqi journalist was murdered in cold blood followed by the mutilation of her body.

Al Arabiya’s denial that the horrific images of torture had shown Atwar Bahjat did not reduce the uproar surrounding the truth that the young woman had, in fact, suffered a great deal of torture. In search of the truth, but without being explicit, it is as if we are requesting to see the images of Atwar’s body or even the images that claim to show Atwar’s corpse, in order to decide for ourselves whether this claim is valid and whether people are actually capable of committing such brutal violence against an innocent person.

Al Arabiya and other channels cannot transmit images of Atwar’s body or of the tortured body that many claim belonged to Atwar, of which we still do not know the identity or the crime for which she was punished in such a horrendous manner.

There has been news regarding doctors who work in the morgues of Baghdad who assert that the bodies that they receive have been subjected to torture and mutilation. These are the kind of realities that we could never ask to be aired on television screens or shown in our newspapers.

Despite our persistence to keep such appalling pictures too far away for our children and ourselves to see, we become imprisoned to such shocking pictures that frequently attack our minds without actually seeing these images with our eyes. In our minds, these images have transformed into real visions of much violence, blood and screaming.

There was news once about a doctor who works in a morgue in Baghdad who said that he had become accustomed to receiving bodies that had evidently suffered torture and that he would now talk to the bodies, reassuring them that the terror from which they suffered was over.

Iraqis are definitely living through a constant state of terror that we hear about and see from afar. However, in our minds we are experiencing terrible events that we cannot see and surely do not want to see.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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