There are places in the world where we are tourists. And places where we are at home. And then there are places in between. In between places for me include Arab nations. I’ve always – since early teens – been attracted to the complexity and lure of the Middle East and North Africa. In the late ’90’s I was lucky enough to be able to take a year off and study Fuhsa (formal Arabic) at the Arabic Language Institute in Fez. There is nothing like living in a country, studying there, learning the language to help you appreciate those inbetween grey areas.
I miss Fes. Yes, even the 52 degree heat and the qibla (awesome wind off the desert) slamming into buildings, I miss Morocco.
Reading blogs isn’t the same as being there – but they do help revive memories and grow them to mythic proportions. (Therein lies the attraction of TripAdvisor). I check out itoot from time to time, for interesting Arabic bloggers. I also kid myself I can remember more than As-Salāmu `Alaykum (السلام عليكم) and hobz (bread).
There’s a few great Middle East bloggers that are available to the West. I love Riverbend - I taught a class at Uni of Sydney a couple of years ago discussing Bagdad Burning nomination for the Samuel Johnson literature prize. The first time a “book of the blog” was nominated. I wonder when we’ll get a “film of the book of the blog”? Anyway, my big fear at the time was that she would be killed or injured. In fact, anytime she didn’t blog (usually due to power failures in Iraq) her readers would be panicking. It was with mixed feelings I read her latest post that her family had finally decided to leave and she is now safe in Syria. Mixed because she was crying while writing, while I was secretly glad she was safe(r).
So now I am crying while I write about the death of a staff member at Alive In Bagdad blog/online tv site.
Ali Shafeya Al-Moussawi was born in 1984 on December 16th, he was killed on December 14th, 2007.
We are collecting donations for the funeral and his family. You can make a donation via Paypal to smallworldnews (at) gmail.com . If you would like to make a donation by mail or via a different payment service please email us directly at the previous address. We have raised nearly $600 until now, but more will help. His mother and sister are displaced Iraqis leaving in Syria without employment.
Ali lived in Habibya, it’s considered as a part of the Sadr city. On Friday the 14th at 11:30pm Baghdad time, Iraqi National Guard forces raided the street where Ali’s house is, one of the neighbors heard a gun firing after 15 minutes from the arrival of the Iraqi National Guard convoy to the street, the force left at 3:00am. His neighbors kept calling Ali’s phone and it was switched off all the time, so they called his cousin Amar because he lives one block away from where Ali lives.
Amar arrived in Ali’s house and found Ali shoot dead in the living room, Amar called the Iraqi Police and told them the story as he heard it from Ali’s neighbors. At 8:30 am Baghdad time the Iraqi Police took Ali’s body to the morgue, his two uncles received the body at 10:00am and they headed to Najaf to bury him.
Amar said the neighbor who lives in the front of his house was shot dead too during that raid, the guy’s name is Hussein and he is 26 years old. He was in his place along with his brother and nephew. The brother and the nephew disappeared after the convoy left.
The morgue report says that Ali took 31 bullets between the chest and the head and died immediately. He will be missed and remembered. His two brothers were killed in the Firdos Square bombing in 2005. He is survived by his mother and sister. As written above, we are collecting donations for his family via Paypal and mail at smallworldnews (at) gmail.com No amount is too small, and anything will be appreciated. (donate here)
As I go back to working (on a Sunday) writing up stuff on online communities regarding University students and finishing an article on the different revenue streams for social networks, I remember what David N Wallace said to me, quoting Adam Fields…:
“There’s really only one rule for community as far as I’m concerned, and it’s this – in order to call some gathering of people a ‘community’, it is a requirement that if you’re a member of the community, and one day you stop showing up, people will come looking for you to see where you went.”
… and I stop to consider the world outside, both known and unknown, with it’s beauty and it’s evils. My worlds collide: cloistered writing/blogging, my adventures in exotic lands and a war that impacted one lone blogger in a way that the evening News will never capture.
Yes, Ali Shafeya, you will be missed.