In Falluja, Finding a Place for the Dead


After three weeks of fighting between American marines and insurgents, a soccer stadium has become known as the Falluja Martyrs Cemetery. Source: The New York Times

FALLUJA, Iraq - The paint on the gravestones is as red as blood. And on some of them, it has not yet dried.

"A young brother and sister are buried here," said one of the gravediggers, who gave only his first name, Hamza, as he pointed to two crudely cut blocks propped up on a dirt mound.

The place where the dead lie in this town, 30 miles west of Baghdad, was once a soccer stadium named the Falluja Sports Club. But now, after more than three weeks of fighting between American marines and insurgents, it is known as the Falluja Martyrs Cemetery.

Smeared in hand-written Arabic lettering on the stone markers were the names of Amal and Mustafa Alawi, killed in the Hay Julan district, a poor neighborhood in Falluja where much of the fighting has taken place.

"There are 250 people buried here from American strikes on houses," said Nasser, another gravedigger. "We have stacked up the bodies one on top of the other."

In a town where the streets were almost deserted on this afternoon, the makeshift cemetery was a place where the headstones were silent witnesses, yielding a small part of the Iraqi side of the battlefield story.

The gravediggers said that the cemetery was full of women and children. And there were headstones attesting to the graves beneath holding civilian victims, marked "child," for example. But there were also signs of fallen fighters - some of the headstones bore the Arabic word for "hero" painted alongside the names.

As in many conflicts, there were unanswered questions. One headstone read simply "unknown," but it named the place where the person had been killed, Hay Askari, a district in this town of about 300,000 where some of the fighting has taken place since the American siege started early this month.

And there were also the ongoing sounds of battle, belying the shaky truce.

"Hear that?" said a man as the rattle of machine-gun fire and thump of explosions echoed in the distance. He was milling around the cemetery with some other residents, as well as a few fighters, their faces shrouded with Arabic scarves and their hands clutching automatic weapons. They all came to an abrupt standstill to listen to the sudden sounds of renewed combat.

The Iraqi Ministry of Health has tried to piece together the number of Iraqis killed in the fighting, in which American forces have used warplanes, attack helicopters and tanks against the mortars and rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun fire of the guerrillas.

The ministry said that 271 people had been killed since the start of the offensive on April 5. Local doctors quoted by news agencies have given figures more than double that.

Judging by the littered cemetery grounds, bodies had been brought here from hospitals or ambulance medics. Rubber surgical gloves and masks had been tossed amid the graves. Boxes of incense lay spent and discarded, and dried palm fronds were stuck into the dirt of the mounded plots.

More room was being made for future casualties between the goal posts of the large soccer pitch in the center of the stadium, where the turf had been tilled with rows of trenches deep enough to stand in.

"There are still a lot of bodies out there," said Hamza. "But we can't get them because of the fighting."

Source: New York Times


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Older Comments:
ABDUL KHALID FROM INDIA said:
As-salam-0-alikum to all muslim brethern, I am proud to be a muslim and all of us should thank Allah (SWT) for his reward to us as Muslims. But are we in a true sense a muslim ?, certainly not.
Thus my brothers if we dont understand, the duties and responsibilites a muslim carries right now, it will be too late for us.
hence, its obligatory for us to make both self jihad against the internal evil as well as jihad against the enemies of Islam.
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BNAK said:
Mike D:
Please come out of the deception of Zionist own media, the likes of CNN and Fox News and then you will realize how outrageous the muslim world feels at terrorist activities perpetrated in the name of Islam.
It's high time you stop asking questions like:
where was the muslim world when Saddam was killing his own people? or where is the muslim world when children are killed by Al-Qaeda bombs. You can't see the Muslim outrage when such terrorist activities happen because you are blinded by the false propaganda of your Zionist own media that does not want to practice fair journalism and instead only campaign for the zionists who have hijacked the so called American democracy and has been deceiving the American people for decades now.
Muslims are not one-sided, but your Administration is, that has been blindly supporting Israel. Unless you deal justly with the Palestinian problem, I am afraid there's not going to be any respite in the Terrorist activities in the ME and elsewhere, wherever American Interests are present. By saying so, I am not supporting the Terrorists themselves, but the cause they are fighting for, though I shall admit that they adopt wrong means sometimes in their fighting for a just cause.
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MIKE D FROM US said:
Where is the outrage among Mulims when a car bomb goes off killing 20 children? And whose the purpetrator, a foreign terrorist fighting under the flag of Al Quaida. Where is the outrage when a bomb goes off in a market again purposely set by foreign terrorists in order to terrorize the foreign people from aiding the Americans. I can understand the anger towards America having its forces in Iraq, but where is the anger at the foreign fighters purposely targeting civilians, and hiding behind civilians? Are Muslims really this one sided be honest with yourselves.
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FARAH FROM SINGAPORE said:
TO Heather,U have not been paying attention to wht has been happening.Our people do not kill our people.do not get misleaded by media.thank u
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MEBROCKY FROM USA said:
Excellent comments from Abdul Wadoud and Asadullah. I find it incredibly sad and frustrating that so many Americans still believe we did the right thing in Iraq and can not accept the fact that Bush & his team are the worst crooks and liars that I have ever seen in my country's government. May the Lord have mercy on us all.
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YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
To avenge four American contractors (and to avenge casualties among the avengers) America has forfeited its SECOND military victory in Iraq in barely more than a decade. At least some of the authorities in Sunni Arab provinces are being formally recognized as such - before some of the political hacks responsible for the mess in Iraq are formally recognized as the nation's rulers. At this point, the only reason I personally hope for a sovereign Iraq - rather than independent Sunnistan, Shiistan and Kurdistan - is because some of the Zionists supposedly hope for a fragmented Iraq. May Allah help us all (Ameen).
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NICK CAMERON FROM UNITED STATES OF AMERICA said:
I think Zinedine is mistaken. Truth is not dependent upon what's in the eye of the beholder; Truth is what it is regardless of what people want to believe.

If the Muslim terrorists invaded the U.S. in order to murder, then American people would surely fight them. But this is not merely a hypothetical situation, for this is exactly what happened when 19 Arab Muslims invaded the United States and killed thousands on 9/11, and for no other reason than to make a petty political statement.

For Americans, Muslim complaints about Israel are beside the point. Most of us have nothing to do with that country thousands of miles away from our borders. Nonetheless, Americans cannot be expected to stand by and allow criminals to cross into our borders to slaughter innocent people. The unfortunate reality is that much of the Muslim world failed (either through lack of effort or by malicious choice) to keep its extremists at home and did nothing to prevent their brethren from slaughtering our people. So if the Muslim world will not defend America from the evil from within its own communities, then it should not expect the United States to exercise restraint in deterring such evil.

If you don't want to share in our lifestyle, that's fine. But don't demand for us to stop defending ourselves from those extremists from the Muslim world who wish to export terror onto our soil.
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MARYAM MARTIN FROM BAHRAIN said:
Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Rehem.- In the name of Allah, most gracious, most mercifull.
May Allah grant jannah(paradise) for all the people who lsot their lives.May Allah grant peace and merci to the Ummah.May Allah guide us to the straight path (siretal mustaqeem.)May Allah forgive all the believers of our sins on the day of judgement.Ameen thuma Ameen.
La Ilaha Illa Allah Wa Mohammad Rasool Allah.
Allahu Akbar
Allahu Akbar
Allahu Akbar. Inna lillahi wa inna illahi rajoon.
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ZINEDINE FROM MOROCCO said:
Salaamu alaikum,
Dear Yankees including good hearted Heather,
How would you feel if the Taliban were the superpower of this world & say they invaded America to spread their version of "freedom" & get rid of your version of "freedom" kill the Zionist lobbyists that they view as enemies who your gov views as friends,destroy capitalism that they see as a economic cancer & you see as your way to prosperity,say they eliminate democracy & establish shuracracy,rap your women up in Niquabs which you see as a patriarchal way to oppress women,destroy your wineries & Las Vegas gambling casino's where you find entertainment & they find it as a way to impoverish you.
My point is since sometimes,the truth is in the eyes of the beholder, wouldn't it be common sense to mind your own business & keep your terrorists, I know I know you call your soldiers,American heroes,fine as long as you keep them within your territorial boundaries,you can even call them angels if you wish. But remember that once they invade someone else's land for any reason-be it greed, hegemony & world domination, destruction of Arabs & empowerment of Israel, aggressive spread of the American way,evangelism or your version of "freedom" on others expense-they will be called terrorists.Now, whether you like it or not,they willstillface resistance,jihad,muqawama. Call it whatever you want: terrorism,insurgency, militancy,radicalism,fundamentalism,extremism; the bottom line is you are going to put American lives in harms way for a bad cause becs the whole world knows that your wars are not fought for the cause of freedom, nor were they fought for the cause of other's prosperity but were fought under the logic of political realism of supremacy called the Zero Sum gain by which there is a loser & a winner in every conflict.If you don't know what these concept means check your history of unilateralism & read Ronald Reagan, G Bush the father & the son & Henry Kissenger's lips.

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YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
There are millions of Muslim "freedom fighters" throughout the world. Are the American people prepared to slaughter them all? Where might you suppose would be the location of the next "last stand" - Tehran, Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Riyadh, Khartoum, Karachi? Do we have what it takes to do that? What sort of people do you suppose we would become by the time the job was finished?

Surely we need only do what we can to prevent oppression. To that end let us do try to do our best and bring our troops home (Amen).
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HUDD D'ALHAMD FROM CANADA said:
Dear Heather, I appreciate your honest approach toward understanding something that for your American trained mind doesn't make sense. If you followed the comments on this website you should have a glimpse of understanding by now. I know it's hard. Let's start there with the misconception that the Iraqi problem had a simplistic solution. Get in, topple Sadam and install democracy. A fraction of Iraqi defectors danced on the US and Israel tunes. It was their own vision of Iraq. An Iraq with a Western type constitution and Western values, that might be very familiar to you but outrageous to the common Iraqi man/woman. These defectors were well-off people that wanted the "freedom" of the West in an ancient country that had the first recorded code of law(Hammurabi) and an Islamic contemporary tradition. These people like Mr Chalabi wanted to enjoy Western values and freedoms expressed in free choice of sexual gratification and homosexuality, along with Casinos and "High Life". This is antagonistic to the large masses of Shia and Sunni Muslims. They perceive these thing as dirt and great crimes. In other words the "freedom" US is promising to the Iraqis, appears to them as dirt, corruption and sin. Democracy? They don't want democracy, it is not part of Middle Eastern culture. I am not an Iraqi, but I can feel with them not only because they are my Muslim brothers. I felt with the Vietnamese, Somalis, Haitians as well. My rationale is, Iraq's affairs belong to the Iraqis. The Iraqis have to decide for themselves what kind of government they want on their liking. That US won't like it? Well is Iraq the 51st state of the USA?! Now tell me Heather, what pupose does this serve? US wants to install a regime that the Iraqis don't want! US wants to liberate Iraqis, Iraqis don't want their liberation! An honest question arises, "What the hell is US doing in Iraq"?! Who's interest do they serve?! Not Iraqi, that's obvious, isn't it?!
Peace and take care!
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ASADULLAH FROM CANADA said:
For Heather
Please put yourself in Iraqi's position and then then say what you are saying. Are you suggesting that they should not attack foreign military? When someone has invaded your home or your country for whatever reason, would you not try to get rid of them? Are you going to accept them being in your home for an unknown period of time. You wouldn't even let your own country's police do that to you. Do you think that someone 'who has no right to interefere' in your family matters, invades your house, you should let them be there? Please do not side with 'your people' when they are commiting attrocities. This is old fashioned prejudice and it doesnt suit a civilized person.
What kind of freedom are you referring to? People of Iraq are fighting against american forces. They want freedom from america. If americans leave their soil they have their freedom. Didn't america learn anything from the way the anger of people resulted in the brutal mutilation of american contractors? Do u still think that people want them there? Would you let foreign forces to invade America and give you "freedom"?
Don't you know that WMD's case was a bundle of lies? Why did they have to lie if they were sincere?
It's easy to comment on IRaq while sitting here in the comfort of our homes but when you imagine being there as an Iraqi, you will want to join the Iraqi freedom fighters.
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ABDUL FROM USA said:
I pray to god -that muslims should unite and follow the Quran and Hadith. When I read or hear the stories of Prophets and sahabah, how much they loved, they helped one another and felt pain if another muslim was suffering, I tell to myself what happened to us now.
I pray to Allah -please help us and do not put us in tests and don't let another HOLOCAUST to happen-Aameen.
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ABDUL WADOUD FROM USA said:
Suppose you woke up to discover this headline, "Coalition forces battle
Americans for Control of New York"
Or just suppose you were told that you were free but that you could not choose the kind of government you wanted or who could participate in it and that you had no control over your natural resources or foreign policy. That this foreign power would establish and keep military bases in your country for an undetermined amount of time and actually run your country tell you what to think and how. Tell you whom you could trade with and whom you couldn't even set the prices for your goods and services. America was faced with such choices and headlines and out them grew the American Revolution, "remember give me liberty or give me death". To the British Nathan Hale was an insurgent to us a patriot and it wasn't until we kicked that foreign power out that we were able to begin to approach our destiny.
Now we are the Brits and the Iraqis the colonialist. No matter how you slice it that is the truth of it. Iraq should and does belong to the Iraqis it is their country We do not have the right no matter what to tell them what or how to think or how to govern themselves. America does not have a monopoly on common sense or love of country and culture. Nor does it have a lock on the ability to compromise and come to the common good.
Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.
Mahatma Gandhi
One evening, when I was yet in my nurse's arms, I wanted to touch the tea urn, which was boiling merrily... My nurse would have taken me away from the urn, but my mother said 'Let him touch it.' So I touched it -- and that was my first lesson in the meaning of liberty.
John Ruskin
Folks you don't impose democracy on people they either want it and work at it through trial and error or they don't.
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K2 FROM USA said:
Why are so called Muslims fighting from Mosques and where civilians are present? Why are they knowingly exposing innocents to harm.

And what are they fighting for? If they want to remove disbelievers maybe they should begin with teh Saudi's.

Where were they when Saddam was in power?
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PIA JOHANSOHN FROM STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN said:
I am not Muslim, but I know that even in my religion they say that the cruel oppressor will eventually be humiliated and humbled. The blooshed, murder and mayhem of the innocent, by Bush and his mistress Sharon in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and plan on doing in Iran, will never be forgotten. I am sure if you include all the murdered people from Japan and Korea wars you would easily have more than 6 million. Are Jewish people crying over these deaths too? Are they also asking for compensation for these dead Asians too? Does America think the succeeding generations will simply forget and carry on. I don't think so. When America has to pay again, it must then not complain and whine. America you made your bed, now you sleep in it. I also find it very interesting that Americans only bully and kill nations who can not fight back. How in the world do they consider themselves heroes? What is most alarming is that the Rabbis and Priests support this mass murder. How aweful. I am thinking about dropping Christianity for Islam. After all I find it to be a much more liberal religion than Judeism and Christianity. It most certainly is not what the media has been portraying it to be. After all it has always been Christians and Jews killing and murdering throughout history. The biggest mass annhilation of people in modern times in Germany by Hitler and in Japan by the Americans and British was done by Christians. In fact Saddam has always been America's puppet. Guess who supplied him the poison gas to kill the Kurds? It was the Americans. Why are they all of a sudden talking about all the people Saddam killed? When Saddam only killed for USA and by its consent and approval. All in all I find Americans childish, neurotic, paranoid, hypocrites with a murderous streak.
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MOHI FROM BANGLADESH said:
I think it is relevant with this news article. Some one send me a link I want to share with the visitors of this site. Please check this out

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5365.htm
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HEATHER FROM USA said:
I do not understand how you can say that people of the U.S. do not care about Iraq and its people. For myself, I pray for the Iraqi people and its country to be at peace every night! I do not want innocent lives being torn from lives and families as much as you people do. What I don't understand is how some of you people think we are killing the innocent on purpose. Take a look around and realize that your own people are taking your friends and family's lives away from you. They attack foreign military when they are around civilians making it seem as if we aim to kill anything that moves. None of the foreign military know any of you personally, but I know for a fact that most of the men and women fighting for your freedom would die for you in a heartbeat; especially the marines I know of. And if I was there with them, I'd be doing the same. But since I am not, I wish to help you some way some how. So please, feel free to write me with your thoughts and feelings. Hoping for the best for you and your country. God bless!
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