Security has improved in Baghdad, but it remains one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Daily bombings and drive-by shootings traumatise its residents. An Iraqi member of BBC’s staff describes his daily journey to work – anything but a mundane affair. His identity has been protected for his own safety.



Here’s an interesting new disorder for medical science to investigate: Baghdadophobia – an Iraqi’s fear of his own capital city.

Other phobias are common enough – fear of flying, fear of spiders – but Baghdadophobia has reached pandemic proportions, afflicting virtually every Iraqi, including the writer of these lines. And I think my fear is justified.

I start my day by taking a bath and praying. I listen to the news while I have my breakfast, then I get dressed for work, and always kiss my wife and my children before leaving the house – everyone here does the same these days, because everyone knows when they leave home that they may not return.

Death lurks around every corner, and nobody is immune. Almost all the victims are innocent bystanders who wrongly think that because they aren’t in the government or military their chances of survival are greater.

So we steer clear of areas that are out-of-bounds because of our ethnicity or religion. We don’t express opinions in public beyond criticising our wives’ cooking or the nosiness of our mothers-in-law.

Leaving the house, the first thing I do is check beneath my car and the inside, in case someone stuck a magnetic bomb underneath it – an easy-to-use weapon used frequently in Iraq lately.

I start the engine and drive off, and the whole road seems fraught with danger. Was that my neighbour’s car that just set off behind me? No. Who does it belong to? Am I being followed? Maybe I should slow down or pull over, just in case.

Thank God, the driver passes by, continuing his journey until he’s out of sight, probably as afraid of me as I was of him. I start driving again.

Source: BBC/Bush Transatlantic Networks


Till strongness,

Kaj Elhorst

Published in: on 5 november 2008 at 5:30  Geef een reactie  

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