Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tale of sorrow
As a producer working in Iraq for the past two years, it's hard to not admire my Iraqi friends and colleagues; admire them because they still and show up at work, because they still send their children to school, because they drive on the most dangerous streets, but most of all because they still smile ...

Iraq today is a depressing story -- a story you can read on the faces of its people -- those I know still smile, but behind every smile is a somewhat similar story-- one of fear, pain and trying to survive.

A year ago I met Ahmed while waiting for a press event. He stuck out -- dressed in a bright suit and shoes too shiny to have come off the dusty Baghdad streets. We had hours to kill -- and Baghdad is the sort of place where bonds are quickly formed in the shadow of the violence hanging over everyone's head. Ahmed loved his career, and like many of the Iraqi's that I have met here, mocks the violence, the government, the militias, the insurgents -- trying to turn terror into humor to cope. He had me in stitches with his comments about various politicians, and in awe of his ability to still be able to laugh and defy the violence.

"Come on, I'll pick you up -- we can have lunch with my mom and run around Baghdad," he said at one point. It was of course an impossible proposition given the circumstances.

Last November Ahmed was dragged out of his car and shot dead in Baghdad's Adhamiya -- a highly volatile Sunni district. Ahmed was on TV almost daily and had just started working for an Iraqi channel with Sunni affiliations accused by the government of inciting sectarian violence. More than 30 journalists were killed that year.

Just two days before his death I had seen him at a distance at a press event -- we waved at each other and he flashed me that bright smile.

Now, I look at his picture and realize that to many he is a mere statistic, one of the thousands of Iraqi casualties we report everyday.

A reality we report -- a reality they live.

From CNN Baghdad Producer Jomana Karadsheh.
Very painful to have human beings killing themselves. By God's grace this would end very soon very soon....
Jomana,
My heart goes out to you at the loss of your friend Ahmed. I had no idea so many journalists have been killed just doing their job.

We are bombarded with images from Iraq in the media every day. When I was a small child I remember seeing images from Vietnam on the evening news. It is really no different now; it is just a matter of video tape versus satellite of a devastating war. Oh, and blogging of course.

In the US, even though we face violence everyday in our cities and streets, I don't think we can really conceptualize what it is like to live in Iraq during these war years. We do hear personal stories from the troops that do return but not so much about the individual citizens that live in Iraq or Baghdad.

Thank you for your post. Please continue reporting on the citizens of Iraq and the reality they live each day. Thank you for sharing the personal story of your friend.

Keep safe.
Hi Jomana,
Your late friend, Ahmed, has my utmost admiration & respect & so do the other Iraqis. When will this end???
Living in my peaceful country, I cannot fathom what it is like to live under so much fear & terror.
I'm so sorry for your loss. There is so much sorrow, and I just don't think that we can truly understand it witout being there and experiencing it for ourselves. It is heartbreaking to think about what the Iraqi people go through every day, and even worse to know that our government is responsible.
I pray that you will all be safe, and wish you the best in your efforts to do your jobs under such harrowing conditions. This cannot end soon enough.
We can thank George W. Bush for the deaths in Iraq. We should all pray that he is tried for his war crimes.
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