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Iraqi election candidates face poet's sarcasm
Iraqi election candidates face poet's sarcasm
Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a poor Iraqi shepherd who lost all but six of his sheep to drought. In desperation, the poor shepherd decided to run for parliament. Or so begins a satirical poem recited by Abdel-Wahid al-Badrani at an election-themed evening at Tikrit's Palace of Culture and Arts, a week ahead of the March 7 parliamentary polls
Tuesday, March 2,2010 17:46


From the passionate response at the event, it seemed the poem touched a nerve in the mostly Sunni audience in Tikrit, renowned as being the home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein


Al-Badrani's shepherd embarks on his campaign by killing two of his sheep as a gift to religious leaders and the village elders. He then killed a third to acquire an academic degree - a reference to a recent scandal over many Iraqi lawmakers' faked academic qualifications


The last three sheep he keeps, vowing to slaughter them when he wins the elections


The shepherd-turned-candidate promises voters electricity, and beneficial marriages for the young, elderly, and the widowed All Iraqis, he promises, will eat well if they elect him


The voters in al-Badrani's poem hand the shepherd a reverberating victory


After his win, the shepherd discards all his promises, one after another. He changes his telephone number. He signs legislation approving an independent Kurdistan. He performs pilgrimage from Tehran to the Iranian city of Qom, sacred to Shiite Muslims. He bows down to American forces


Then, as he arranges to run for reelection, he hears that the Commission for Accountability and Justice, has included his name among a list of hundreds of candidates to be excluded from politics for their former ties to the banned Baath Party


The audience burst into laughter as al-Badrani recited this last line


Though al-Badrani's shepherd-turned-politician has done nothing his entire life but herd sheep, he stands accused of being an officer in the former regime and being responsible for the deaths of 1,000 Iraqis


Poet Shahir Malik al-Hazin picked up a similar theme, disparaging the venality of politicians, whom he portrayed as making false promises to win votes in order to serve themselves


Osama al-Tikriti, the secretary general of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni-Muslim offshoot of the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood, was in the audience


What, al-Hazin asked in his poem, had lawmakers done for Iraq, save lead the country toward civil war and bring hunger and impoverishment to most Iraqi families


Al-Hazin's poem addresses an anonymous legislator who has come back to beg for the votes of the orphans and widows he has neglected in the four years since his election


In one scene, a man begs for bread in front of a slick campaign poster that cost 1 million Iraqi dinars to print


 The audience listened in solemn silence 

tags: Iraq / Saddam / Shiites / Sunnis / Iraqi Elections / Saddam Hussein / Iraqi Parliament / Iraqi War
Posted in Iraq  
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