“Abdul is my world, my 3rd child. My first two children went straight to Jannah… heaven. Still born. That’s what the doctor called it. You see it’s difficult to raise children here in Iraq. UN sanctions are impoverishing our land, it’s been 13 years now. Children are malnourished…” I offer halwa to the Western journalist sitting at my kitchen table. Little food comes into Iraq. Little of what we produce goes out. And rarely do we find a journalist willing to tell the rest of the world what is happening to our country. This month many journalists are flooding in. There are high hopes in the hearts of our people. Hope that they have come to finally relieve us from these chains. Relieve us from the way our schools and hospitals are slowly being run into the ground. She says my son Abdul is one of the happiest children she’s ever met. I tell her how me and my husband will never make him realise how he suffers. “This has been the life he’s always known. And for that he is happy.” The journalist seems lost, as though she is seeking something I cannot offer. She soon leaves. It is at this point I realise how blessed we have been to have had a healthy child for 9 years. Babies who have complications rarely make it. The first few years are the scariest for any mother here. Last week I saw a look in my child’s eyes a mother never wants to see. It was the look of fear. It mirrored the fear in my own face. The ground thudded. Our house shook. A noise louder than I’ve heard in the 35 years of my life. Earthquake I thought. Suddenly I recalled the last thing the journalist said to me: “Protect your family, they’re planning shock and awe.” She wasn’t talking about sanctions. All I ask is that Allah protect my Abdul from the evils in this world.
I’m Abdul. 4 years ago today our house in Fallujah was raided by the armed forces. They fired their large guns through our kitchen. My mother was cooking. Six of those bullets sent her to Jannah. My Dad could no longer face that house… or our country anymore so we left. We arrived in London soon after. My father knows the meaning of hardship. He missed our country, lost every job he struggled to get. He was a hard worker, but employers don’t care for that much. My father wasn’t accustomed to living in a place where only a rare few stopped to say hello so when he was friendly to people they suspected him. People see us as a threat. That’s the first thing we noticed when we landed. The funny thing is, we “the big threat” feel the most vulnerable. Our local Mosque was trashed by “far-right extremists”, “terrorists” graffittied on the walls. They don’t understand Islam. My father is getting old. Though he battles, he has become weakened with the life we’ve been faced with. When I have the money I will return to Iraq and train to fight against those invading our homes. May Allah protect my Father whilst I am away.
Four days have passed since I had to tell my darling Timmy that his Daddy wasn’t coming home to us anymore. I know he feels it, my Timmy. He smiles and plays like every 7 year old boy should, but I can tell from the reflection in his little green eyes, he knows the worst has happened to us. And I know it’s not long till those smiles turn to confusion. He’s waiting. Waiting for John, my husband to return. Oh and what a husband he is… was. Too good for this world. That’s what I keep telling myself. That’s what I keep telling everyone else. It helps, but of course if I had to chose, he’d still be mine. He’d still be here with me throwing Timmy up and down in the air whilst I’d repeatedly ask him to be more careful. But he was careful, and through my moaning I secretely knew I’d could never feel safer than when he was with us. He’d always protect us. And that’s what made me marry him; love and security. I just wished I could’ve protected him. He phoned me, just before… he said: “They’ve hijacked the plane… we’re circling the World Trade Centre.” 5 minutes later, I saw it on the news. All I ask is for God to protect my Timmy from the evil in this world.
I’m Tim. I’m 18 years old. I lost my Dad when I was a young-un. It’s no secret. Everyone at high school knew ‘bout it… talked ‘bout it. Before 5th grade people used to understand what September 11th meant to me. I’m not too sure now. I hear people talk ‘bout how all those died on 9/11 just don’t matter when no more. “Those who died in 911 are nothing compared innocent people being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan”- that’s what they say. But it matter to me. My Dad’s death didn’t mean “nothing” to my family. He was innocent too you know. There needs to be justice for my Dad’s death. This is the year I can finally join the forces. My Mom don’t want me to, she scared. She’s been scared for a long time now. I tell her I just want to protect people. I want to protect my future family, and protect the families in Iraq. See I know what it’s like to lose someone you were never meant to lose, I don’t want them to know that feeling too… May God protect my Mom whilst I am away.
Timmy is a terrorist
Timmy will murder the innocent
Timmy is part of an evil regime
Timmy is racist
Timmy is attacking the East
Abdul is a terrorist
Abdul will murder the innocent
Abdul is part of an evil regime
Abdul is a racist
Abdul is attacking the West
Perception. Isn’t it strange how it differs depending on who we are and where we are from. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and remember; everyone else is human too. Those of us blessed enough to not be in the positions of Timmy and Abdul are in a position to think critically. Instead, so many decide take sides, make assumptions resounding of those above. Does it ever help? No, it only adds fuel to fire.