It was pleasant for Iraqis that shops and streets in their capital Baghdad were decorated with flowers, gifts and delicious chocolate-shaped hearts. The streets of Al-Karada, Al-Mansour and Palestine throbbed with red but not as a colour of bloodshed but as a colour of roses full of love and life. Many Iraqi women and men congratulated one another shyly as if they do not believe they are promising this act of love.
The “Facebook” Iraqi community were optimistic in their thoughts like many in Iraq also share. Thoughts that Baghdad will regain a civil face that withered due to consecutive Baghdad rulers who punished the city and due to a recent ruler who turned the city into consolation councils that barely stop…
Baghdad celebrated Valentine’s Day.
Isn’t this news!!
The Iraqi capital has never announced celebrating a day like this one like it did this year. The media’s interest in the news of Valentine’s Day almost dominated over interest in Anbar protests against the government. The organizers of the protests announced their intent to move to Baghdad but soon after revealed that they were postponing the move for another date…
But will a passing celebration of love restore romance, lost for decades, in Iraq which its modern history is marked with the cruellest of dictatorships and which today enters the revolutions’ path via a special door…
Those celebrating Valentine’s Day realized they were fooling themselves or raving like a delirious patient who has not totally lost his mind and who is aware of how difficult it is to be healed, yet does not lose hope. The cloud of Iraqi’s Valentine’s Day passed quickly. On the same social networking pages where we see users who celebrated thoughts of amiability, we see a lot of statements on the Anbaris’ revolution and the upcoming march to Baghdad.
Baghdad has its stories. But today these stories seem to be on the edge of an Iraqi substantial division. The sectarian government, and the sectarian uprising against it, turned the content of citizenship, which is supposed to pervade of roses celebrating love in Baghdad, into a horizontal dispute where each party aided itself by using the confrontation mechanisms produced by the Arab uprisings.
Anbari activists on “Facebook” and “Twitter” seem to be, on one hand, in a dispute with the government and on the other the leaders of their uprising who are sheikhs, tribes and mosques’ imams. These activists’ confusion is reflected in slogans they raised during protests and where they emphasized the civil gratification of their movement. It seems that tribal sheikhs who are influential in the protests have different agendas.
The requests of the Anbar uprising are similar to the accusations made against the government. Instead of a Shiite face for the government, there is a request for a Sunni partnership. Someone suggested that there be a temporal division between Sunnis and Shiites in religious occasions. A day for the Shiites and a day for the Sunnis as some tribal sheikhs requested. These ethnic sheikhs requested the government provide protection and support for religious marches to some Sunni sites like it does on days for Shiite occasions.
But some activists making these demands are missing that the revolution does not straighten with values and meanings unless those raising slogans calling for sectarian partnership call for complete citizenship outside this division.
May Iraq be well on every Valentine’s Day..
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 18,2013.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.