Whilst you remember Sarah Bryant, don’t forget Fatima.
I’ve just been reading about the female British soldier killed in Afghanistan. In a war initiated by the US and joined by others to share the spoils, Sergeant Sarah Bryant was the first female British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan. She was simply following orders from her democratic nation. It’s been all over the news and interviews from her loved ones add to the sympathy we feel towards her and her family. The language used in the reporting commemorates her as an aimiable individual with dreams, whose life was taken unlawfully.
I feel sad that many have lost their lives for unclear reasons. But I can’t help but think of ‘Fatima’ every time I hear Sgt Sarah Bryant mentioned in the news. I am wondering if people will remember Fatima the way Sarah Bryant will be remembered. I don’t even know Fatima’s surname. But her story left a mark on me and as I feel there is prejudice in the way the world mourns the death of some whilst easily forgets others, I’m dedicating this article in memory of Fatima and the other nameless women in Abu Ghuraib.For those who didn’t come across Fatma’s story (as it didn’t receive the same level of coverage that Sarah Bryant will get), Fatima was a prisoner in Iraq. She was imprisoned by the coalition forces because her brother was one of the resistant fighters, trying to resist occupation. She wrote a letter to the resistant fighters, and it was published by Al-Jazeera. She died in prison shortly after. Here is part of her letter:
… I say to you: our wombs have been filled with the children of fornication by those sons of apes and pigs who raped us. Or I could tell you that they have defaced our bodies, spit in our faces, and tore up the little copies of the Qur’an that hung around our necks?
….By God, we have not passed one night since we have been in prison without one of the apes and pigs jumping down upon us to rip our bodies apart with his overweening lust. Kill us along with them! Destroy us along with them! Don’t leave us here to let them get pleasure from raping us
….Leave their tanks and aircraft outside. Come at us here in the prison of Abu Ghurayb.They raped me on one day more than nine times. Can you comprehend? Imagine one of your sisters being raped. Why can’t you all imagine it, as I am your sister. With me are 13 girls, all unmarried. All have been raped before the eyes and ears of everyone. They took our clothes and won’t let us get dressed. As I write this letter one of the girls has committed suicide. She was savagely raped. A soldier hit her on her chest and thigh after raping her. He subjected her to unbelievable torture. She beat her head against the wall of the cell until she died, for she couldn’t take any more.Brothers, I tell you again, fear God! Kill us with them so that we might be at peace. Help! Help! Help!
I know we can’t hear about every death every time but I can’t help but notice the bias in reporting deaths of westerners compared to the deaths of others. I know that British media will inevitably cover British casualties with more detail than the deaths of other nationals (except the 9-11 victims of course), but where is the media that reports on the numerous Muslim casualties that occur on a daily basis? Why is it that we hardly hear from the families of these victims? This letter is something of a rarity, but cases like this exist across the world. Western victims like Sarah Bryant make headlines and stories. Muslim victims are just numbers. Surely all human life is equally valuable. Why the disproportionate concern?
Perhaps I can say this because I’m not a Briton. If I was a British citizen I’d probably be expected to show greater concern fro British casualties than others or be given the option to ‘go back where I came from’. I still don’t understand why though.