Returning to tribe, turning to blood
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 It marks a return to a brutal tribal era, and is reminiscent of the norms and outdated laws of classical Arab society—a society in which the sword and blood were the only law.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.