28 February, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 02/08/2008
IRAQ
Iraq, terrorism runs with the legs of a child
by Layla Yousif Rahema
After the release of video showing the training of children for al-Qaeda, the problem of neglected children in Iraq is returning into focus. It is not only al-Qaeda, but the religious militias are also "enlisting" children. Economic need is only the latest motivation driving children to take up rifles. The culture of weapons and violence has deep roots in the country.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Poverty, ignorance, the seduction of feeling invincible, the desire to fulfil the will of Allah, and finally becoming an adult.  There are many motivations driving Iraqi children into the ranks of al-Qaeda and the sectarian militias, but they can all essentially be explained by the deep-rooted culture of violence and weapons that spread through Iraq long before the American invasion in 2003.  Members of al-Qaeda and the Sunni and Shiite militias are exploiting this, and it takes very little for a child to find himself holding a gun and acting out attacks and kidnappings, as seen in a recent video from al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, made public two days ago. 

Poverty and ignorance

The most ordinary motivation is economic gain.  Today, al-Qaeda pays a child between 200 and 300 dollars to plant a bomb, enough to feed a family of at least five members for two or three months.  According to Iraqi and American military sources, the religious militias pay much less: 35 dollars to deliver a bomb.  Most of the time, these children come from the lower middle classes and have stopped going to school, because of poverty or lack of security.  According to information from the Iraqi education ministry, in 2007 only 30 percent of the 3.5 million school-age children attended school. 

The seduction of war

And then, for those who have seen a parent or another relative die, war represents a powerful seduction, a way to assert oneself in the absence of any alternatives. "I am grateful to the Mahdi Army (editor's note: the Shiite militia of al Sadr), because it has made me a man", says Ali, a 14 year-old Shiite boy, quoted in an article in Newsweek.  The Islamic militants are the strongest men in their world dominated by terror.  And religious factors play a decisive role here: when an adolescent hears his spiritual leader asking him to do something "in the name of God", he feels that by obeying he will leave his life as a child and become an adult capable of carrying out the will of Allah. 

The culture of violence

But behind every 'baby terrorist' there is above all the profound problem of a society that has grown up in a state of war and terror.  The roots of this reach back to before 2003. "When I was in the fifth year of middle school", recalls Yousef, a 25 year-old man from Baghdad who has emigrated to Europe, "they required us to train in the use of weapons after our classes, and those who did not participate were denounced to representatives of the Baath party at the school".  "Children now play at war the way they do with dolls or with model cars", some Iraqi parents complain.  Toy weapons are so common in the streets that last year the government expressed its "concern" in this regard, but without taking any concrete measures.  A Baghdad shopkeeper recounts that "toy rifles are by far the best-selling toy for both boys and girls".  Living in a context in which violence is "even praised" - sociology experts explain - the adolescent is convinced that with the use of weapons he can make a name for himself, a reputation, and this makes him feel strong, invincible.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
02/21/2008 IRAQ
Disabled and beggars banned from the streets of Baghdad
08/28/2008 IRAQ
Iraq, 650 doctors respond to government appeal, return to country
08/20/2009 IRAQ
Baghdad announces new safety rules, but attacks continue
05/15/2010 IRAQ
Elections in Iraq: no fraud after manual counting of votes
08/27/2007 IRAQ
Massive security measures for Shiite pilgrims in Kerbala

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.