Re­turn­ing to tribe, turn­ing to blood

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Gazi Has­san

I shall start by say­ing killing, hurt­ing and ex­ert­ing pres­sure on jour­nal­ists is a se­ri­ous hu­man­i­tar­ian and cul­tural crime. Mur­der­ing a jour­nal­ist has the same neg­a­tive im­pact as mur­der­ing a philoso­pher: we know that words can be silenced, but their im­pact can never be pre­vented; pens can be bro­ken, but the re­al­ity can never be hid­den.

So be­fore politi­cians get in­volved in their tough games, the law and the courts have to play a cru­cial role: while the mur­der of jour­nal­ists is a bru­tal act, the so­lu­tion does not lie in a bru­tal re­ac­tion. It is cru­cial that the prin­ci­ples of civil so­ci­ety and the rule of law are ap­plied

Re­cently, in a mourn­ful in­ci­dent, a jour­nal­ist in Bag­dad was killed by an Iraqi repub­li­can guard. The news spread fast. It did not take long for Nuri Ma­liki to ar­rive at the scene and stated on TV “The blood of this jour­nal­ist in my bur­den; there will be blood for blood”. But his state­ment drove the mur­dered jour­nal­ist out of our mind and took the in­ci­dent in an­other di­rec­tion.

You may be ask­ing what di­rec­tion? Iraq is al­ready full of blood; dozens of people fall vic­tim ev­ery day to ter­ror­ism and the re­ac­tion against ter­ror­ism. Ma­liki’s forces tar­get dozens of people daily, and their tar­gets are cho­sen on po­lit­i­cal and eth­nic grounds, which can trig­ger tribal re­ac­tions. But now Ma­liki turns the mur­der of one per­son into a cri­sis be­tween two na­tions--the Kurds and the Arabs—and says he wants re­venge: blood for blood.

Our main con­cern is not in judg­ing and im­ple­ment­ing law; it is the re­turn to the cul­ture of blood and tribal power. Any­one who knows the an­cient his­tory of the Arabs and of Iraq in gen- eral knows that clans­men and tribes were al­ways in power, and that they achieved their dom­i­na­tion by blood. Un­for­tu­nately, these meth­ods re­main the so­cial norm even to­day. In the twen­ty­first century, the leader of Iraq, a coun­try whose con­sti­tu­tion was drawn up with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the West and the US, is ready to pro­voke feel­ings of racism, blood for blood and chau­vin­ism for the sake of votes.

Dis­course and po­lit­i­cal aware­ness of this sort takes us back hun­dreds or thou­sands of years. It marks a re­turn to a bru­tal tribal era, and is rem­i­nis­cent of the norms and out­dated laws of clas­si­cal Arab so­ci­ety—a so­ci­ety in which the sword and blood were the only law. Any­one who con­sid­ers Ma­liki’s law of blood for blood as a means of pun­ish­ing a crim­i­nal can­not help but re­call the author­ity and prin­ci­ples of tribal law.

The main ques­tion is this: is Ma­liki’s stance purely a means of evok­ing feel­ings and ma­nip­u­lat­ing the emo­tions of sim­ple vot­ers? Or is it an ex­ten­sion of a wrong-headed pol­icy against the Kurds which, in­stead of im­ple­ment­ing law and re­spect­ing courts and the prin­ci­ples of civil so­ci­ety, seeks to drive people to shed blood and to­wards tribal re­venge and racism.

It is thus vi­tally im­por­tant that the forces of civil so­ci­ety and democ­racy, and all those who abide by the law and the con­sti­tu­tion, raise their voice and pre­vent Iraq from re­turn­ing to a be­nighted era of blood and re­venge. Be­cause this can only pro­duce a bru­tal so­ci­ety awash with blood and per­sonal and tribal re­venge; it could mark the start of an­other po­lit­i­cal catas­tro­phe in Iraq.

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