A “Holey” Instrument of Peace in Iraq

On October 23, 2006 a U.S. soldier or marine peered through the telescopic sight of his M24 sniper rifle and trained it on the face of Nora, a five-year-old Iraqi girl. Her pretty face was close enough to kiss. Instead, he squeezed the trigger and sent a 7.62 round slamming into her skull. The medical report read, “Nora sustained an explosive bullet injury to her head that smashed the skull bones and ruptured her cerebral membrane.” Nora survived the sniper’s bullet.

During the battle for Falluja in 2004, U.S. snipers positioned themselves on rooftops covering the entrance to the only hospital still in operation, creating what locals called “sniper alley.” Iraqi men, women, and children seeking medical treatment were fired on. Ambulances delivering patients and supplies were fired on. Unlike Nora, many did not survive the sniper’s bullet.

On May 30, 2006 Nabiha Nisaif Jasiam and her cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassen were shot from behind by a U.S. sniper as they drove to Samarra General hospital. Nabiha was about to deliver her third child. Neither survived the sniper’s bullet.

No U.S. president or general or lowly lieutenant acknowledged, much less apologized, for these illegal and immoral shootings. No sniper was held accountable.

On May 19 the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, Maj. General Jeffrey Hammond, apologized to community leaders and imams from the Baghdad neighborhood of Radhwaniya after it was discovered that a U.S. sniper used a copy of the Quran for target practice.

Gen. Hammond told the angry crowd, “I come before you here seeking your forgiveness. In the most humble manner … I say please forgive me and my soldiers. The actions of one soldier were nothing more than criminal behavior.”

Sheikh Hamadi al-Qirtani, speaking for the tribal sheiks of Radhwaniya, called the sniper’s behavior “aggression against the entire Islamic world.” The Association of Muslim Scholars condemned “this heinous crime against God’s book” and warned Gen. Hammond, “God preserves his book and [is] the Great Avenger.”

We need some perspective here!

Nora and the other innocent Iraqis shot by snipers are made of flesh and blood and a brain capable of remembering yesterday and hoping for tomorrow. They are their god’s “Islamic World,” the living testament to faith in a sacred covenant. It is these human beings who are the victims of a “heinous crime” and deserve to be avenged by their god, if not at least apologized to by Gen. Hammond.

Holy books, on the other hand, are made of cardboard and paper and ink. They are made for profits (pun absolutely intended). These books are not manna from heaven. They are manufactured here on Earth and there is nothing sacred about their physical presence. Whatever “sacredness” there may be in holy books can, like little Nora, survive a sniper’s bullet. If it cannot, then it is most assuredly the creation of men, not of gods.

To seal his apology at Radhwaniya, Gen. Hammond ordered a soldier to kiss a new copy of the Quran and present it to the community. That done, he assured them, “I have punished this soldier. [He] has lost the honor to serve the United States Army and the people of Iraq here in Baghdad.” The soldier was sent home to his family.

Is it any wonder that the Vietnam War lasted for more than a decade and claimed the lives of 58,200 Americans and over two million Vietnamese? During that war, soldiers and marines had to shoot themselves instead of a book in order to lose the “honor” of serving the U.S. military and the people of Vietnam and get sent home to their families.

With that in mind, consider this proposal for a “holey” workable Iraq peace plan: Mothers write to your son, wives to your husband, and kids to your dad. Beg him to drill a few 7.62 holes into a holy book of his choice, turning it into an instrument of peace. Have him respectfully submit this symbol of peace to his commanding officer with a notarized photograph to the unit chaplain or local imam. He will no longer be allowed to “serve” the people of Iraq and will be safely home in a week. The war will be over by Christmas.

It seems unlikely that either the Peaceful Prophet of Islam or the Prince of Peace of Christianity will have a problem with 140,000 holey holy books if it means saving twice that many lives and the ending of an immoral war and suffocating occupation.

The Peaceful Prophet said, “Whoever kills a single soul … it is as though he had killed all of humanity,” while the Prince of Peace made it clear, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethrens, ye have done it unto me.

Neither Prophet nor Prince ever said anything about “killing” a book. It is the “living testament” that is sacred to them, not something made of cardboard and paper and profits.

Robert Weitzel is a contributing editor to Media With a Conscience. His essays regularly appear in The Capital Times in Madison, WI. He can be contacted at: robertweitzel@mac.com. Read other articles by Robert, or visit Robert's website.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. The Big Raven said on May 23rd, 2008 at 8:05am #

    Great writing what a wonderfull thought! I agree shoot all the “holy”books Ive been saying burn them for they are not used here except to waive in the air and beg for millions! Peace be to the truth talkers.

  2. 5 dancing shlomos said on May 23rd, 2008 at 8:53am #

    i disagree. holy books are holy and should be treated with respect especially another religion. that is the point.

    this is a war against islam. against arabs. against all those israel wants destroyed.

    this was not a random, thoughless tearing of a Quran. it was an act of hate. a violent act against Islam.

    this action by an american soldier part of an invading army is saying we are here to kill and destroy and we think your religion deserves to be destroyed by us.

  3. evie said on May 23rd, 2008 at 8:56am #

    The original report by the girl’s father said a sniper on a rooftop fired at his car, striking Nora.

    You write -“U.S. soldier or marine peered through the telescopic sight of his M24 sniper rifle and trained it on the face of Nora, a five-year-old Iraqi girl. Her pretty face was close enough to kiss. Instead, he squeezed the trigger and sent a 7.62 round slamming into her skull.”

    Peered, trained, pretty face, close, kiss, squeezed the trigger, sent slamming into skull…..

    You took suffering and tragedy and wrote it like a cheap dimestore formula novel, which leads me to wonder if you feel for the victim or are just furthering your own career.

  4. Edwin Pell said on May 24th, 2008 at 12:54am #

    The people who were sniped were poor and powerless and of no use to the U.S. ruling class. The people who’s ass Hammond kissed hold some power in Iraq and can aid the U.S. ruling class’s control of oil rich Iraq.

    One is worthless garbage and the other a useful co-conspirator with whom to play act a scene for the masses in Iraq that need to be controlled and directed.

  5. TS Draegeth said on May 27th, 2008 at 11:08am #

    Evie, did you know that car windows can be seen through? And that American snipers have great equipment? Your distracting apologists’ behavior is saddening. It is more human to feel sorrow for the poor assaulted girl.

  6. Shabnam said on May 27th, 2008 at 11:37am #

    Stop shedding crocodile tears. Majority of the mercenaries, US soldiers, are mass killers and rapist as we have seen at Abu Gharib
    and elsewhere along with their fucking “superiors.”

    These criminals must be tried and punished. Those soldiers who have brought up in an educated family who have respect for humanity they never enlist to be engaged in a mass killing of innocent people in Iraq and elsewhere. We hold every single of them responsible for more than 1.2 millions deaths and more than 4.5 millions refugees in Iraq. Those who are against mass killing of innocent people have already stopped serving or have committed suicide because they could not cooperate with thugs, thieves and mass killers. No one shed a drop of tear or listen to ignorant US government petty INFORMANTS who have gained their “experiences” of other countries through selling out others to serve the military of the most corrupt empire in the history of the planet. Shame on them all.


  7. evie said on May 31st, 2008 at 2:12pm #

    Nor do you have proof this sniper intentionally targeted and shot the girl as the author prosily writes.

    Shame on the phony American “left” with their hyperbole and blather about a family of man but purge those not spouting the party line and discard a few million simply b/c they’re in a uniform – judge, jury, executioners ranting about others doing wrong.