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Baghdadee بغدادي

Iraqis Who Died While Daring to Vote Are Mourned

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Another article in NT


Seems the courage of Iraqis had enlightened some dark corcers of the libral media .. Wondering when it will get the Arab m governmen's sponsered one, such as Aljezera!




Iraqis Who Died While Daring to Vote Are Mourned as Martyrs



Published: February 2, 2005



NAJAF, Iraq, Feb. 1 - Salim Yacoubi bent over to kiss the purple ink stain on his twin brother's right index finger, gone cold with death.


"You can see the finger with which he voted," Shukur Jasim, a friend of the dead man, said as he cast a tearful gaze on the body, sprawled across a washer's concrete slab. "He's a martyr now."


The stain marked the hard-won right to vote that Naim Rahim Yacoubi exercised Sunday, and the price he paid for that privilege.


Mr. Yacoubi, 37, was one of at least 50 Iraqis who died in bomb and mortar attacks as millions of people marched to polling centers in the first free elections in decades. At least nine suicide bombs exploded in Baghdad alone. In one of those, the bomber detonated his device outside Kurdis Primary School near the airport, sending dozens of shards of shrapnel into Mr. Yacoubi.


The victims of election day violence are being hailed by many Iraqis as the latest martyrs in a nearly two-year-long insurgency that has claimed the lives of thousands. They were policemen who tried to stop suicide bombers from entering polling centers, children who walked with elderly parents to cast votes, or - in the case of Mr. Yacoubi - a fishmonger who, after voting, took tea from his house to electoral workers at the school.


At polling centers hit by explosions, survivors refused to go home, steadfastly waiting to cast their votes as policemen swept away bits of flesh.


Shiite Arabs, oppressed under the rule of Saddam Hussein, turned out to vote in large numbers, and those who died in the attacks are being brought now to the sprawling cemetery in Najaf, this holiest of Shiite cities, for burials considered fitting of their sacrifices.


The official cause of death on Mr. Yacoubi's death certificate reads, "Explosion on the day of elections."


As the body washer sponged Mr. Yacoubi on Tuesday, blood as dark as the ink on his finger ran from cuts in the back of his head. Four wailing brothers clutched at the body. A group of women in full-length black keened outside.


"All of us talked about the elections," said Hadi Aziz, a 60-year-old neighbor. "We were waiting impatiently for this day so we could finally rid ourselves of all our troubles. Naim was just like any Iraqi who hoped for a better future for Iraq, who wanted stability for Iraq. We hoped that after the elections, the American forces would withdraw from our country."


Two days before the vote, the portly Mr. Yacoubi, a father of nine, drove with his friend Mr. Jasim to Khadimiya, a Shiite neighborhood, to have a new robe made for the occasion, Mr. Jasim said.


On Sunday, he got up at dawn. "He was very proud, and he put perfume on himself and gave out pastries and tea," Mr. Jasim said.


At 8:30, Mr. Yacoubi walked to the local primary school to cast his vote, Mr. Jasim said. He was frisked by policemen as he stood in line. Inside one of the classrooms, he checked off box No. 169 on the national ballot, for a slate of candidates backed by the most revered Shiite cleric in Iraq.


Then, impressed by the dedication of the election workers, Mr. Yacoubi went home to boil tea for them, Mr. Jasim said. He had dropped off the tea glasses and was walking away when the bomb went off.


"It's not the man who exploded himself who's a martyr," Mr. Jasim said as the body washer wiped away dried blood. "He wasn't a true Muslim. This is the martyr. What religion asks people to blow themselves up? It's not written in the Koran."


Mr. Aziz, the neighbor, nodded.


"This is the courage of Iraqis," he said of Mr. Yacoubi's decision to vote, "and we will change the face of history. This is our message to the countries of the world, especially those that are still under a dictatorship and want to walk the same road as the Iraqis."


On Monday, another family arrived at the cemetery with the body of Ali Hussein Kadhum, 40, a farmer from Mahawil. Mr. Kadhum was one of five people killed by a rocket-propelled grenade aimed at their minivan as they drove from a polling center on Sunday, the family said.




He told his family, 'We shouldn't go to the polls together, we should go one by one, because we may face terrorists,' " said an uncle, Muhammad Kadhum Jabaara. "It turned out he was right. Because of that, we got a chance to live."


In the dusty lot outside the washing rooms, another family strapped a coffin holding the body of a policeman, Adil al-Nassar, onto the roof of a blue minivan. He had just been cleaned. Now it was time to take him to the golden-domed Shrine of Ali for his final blessings. He was not the first policeman to be brought here.


Officer Nassar, 40, died after tackling a man who had leapt into a line of women waiting to vote at Osama bin Zaid Primary School, said Kadhum al-Hashim, the officer's father-in-law.


"There were many people, and Adil was just guiding the voters into the school when the terrorist jumped into the line of women," Mr. Hashim said. Several others died in the explosion, he added.


The victim's brother, Muhammad al-Nassar, wiped away tears with a white scarf.


Adil al-Nassar had joined the new police force just a year ago, his brother said. He had a family to feed: a wife and three children, the eldest an 8-year-old son.


"He's a martyr now," Mr. Nassar said. "He saved many lives for the greater good."


To which Mr. Hashim added proudly: "Despite the explosion, the voters came back to the polling center as if nothing had happened. The police just evacuated the bodies, then let people back in."


An elderly neighbor, Kadhum Hussein, said the elections had been worth all the heartache. "God has spared our lives and spared us from the dictator," he said as he scratched his white beard. "The situation is better than before, and we are freed from all things under the past regime."


One man in the funeral gathering showed visitors two palm-size laminated cards with Koranic verses that Adil al-Nassar had carried in his pocket. Each was marred by shrapnel holes. One verse read, "God, I ask you for your mercy, because we come to return to you and we ask you for your help and to meet our needs."


Just then, a station wagon pulled up with a pair of wooden coffins on the roof. Several men piled out and pulled from the coffins the bodies of two brothers, the intestines of one exposed.


They were killed Sunday by a mortar round as they walked with their parents to a polling center in a Baghdad slum, family members said.


Two more martyrs, they said, two more bodies to wash and bury.

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