Iraq: Reasons to Celebrate, Mourn

The Iraqi national soccer team won a victory over South Korea in yesterday’s Asia Cup match, via the NYTimes:

As the Iraqi national soccer team eked out a 4-3 shootout victory over South Korea on Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis poured into the streets in a paroxysm of good feeling and unity not seen in years.

It was more rapture than celebration, a singular release of the sort of emotion that has fueled so much rage and fear and paranoia. But this evening, at least at first, it seemed diverted into nonstop car-horn bliss; spontaneous parades clogged streets from Erbil to Karbala, from Basra to Mosul, from Ramadi to Baghdad. [Full]

While I’d normally be bummed to see a loss for South Korea, given the current situation in Iraq it’s clear which nation needed this more.

Tragically, the halcyon moment of revelry was fleeting for Iraqis, as two suicide bombings tore through Baghdad killing at least 50 people and several men used the cover of the crowd to violently end their personal vendettas.

Will the nation of Iraq ever know unity again?

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2 Responses to “Iraq: Reasons to Celebrate, Mourn”


  1. 1 Soren July 27, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    There’s a fabulous book by Mark Juergensmeyer called Terror in the Mind of God in which he examines the psyche of religious terrorism. I remember one section in which he recalls an interaction with a young Palestinian boy. He had asked the boy to share his thoughts on the conflict, and on whether or not it was okay to kill Israelis. Yes, the boy had said, it was what needed to be done. When asked if he would kill an Israeli, he said yes to that as well. After discovering that the boy was a fan of soccer, he probed further to find that he was even a fan of the Israeli National Soccer Team. When asked if he would kill and a member of the Israeli Team he hesitated, and reported that that was different, that he didn’t think it would be okay to kill one of the Team members.

    I’ve always thought that was interesting… the power of symbols.

  2. 2 B. Broeren July 28, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    It’s moving to see how Iraqis are rallying ahead of the match with Saudi Arabia. An Iraqi was quoted by the AP as saying that “terrorists” shouldn’t be let to betray Iraqi enthusiasm and unity.

    Why isn’t such enthusiasm evident in other situations? Security? Governance? Perhaps there is something more authentic with football, rooting for the home team.


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