By Diana Moukalled
11 April 2014
Iraqi MP Hanan Al-Fatlawi banged her hand on the table during a TV program on which she appeared, speaking angrily but effortlessly, and said: “For every seven Shiites killed, we want seven Sunnis [killed] in their place.”
Of course, the seriousness of the situation which compelled Fatlawi to make such a statement is diminished by her words. An Iraqi parliamentarian has dismissed the authority of the constitution and the law to declare that the time has come to implement the principle of “an eye for an eye” to manage the sectarian conflict that is currently raging in Iraq.
The media uproar which followed the Iraqi MP’s comments did not deter her or encourage her to retract her comments, and the echoes of her statement remained loud in the public arena. To top it off, Fatlawi is a member of the State of Law parliamentary coalition led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The Iraqi MP’s televised comment ignited a firestorm on social media, worsening the sectarian discourse in the country and intensifying its hate campaigns. It is language that encourages the shedding of blood, which is what is taking place in Iraq and in many surrounding countries.
‘Blood For Blood’
In fact, the Iraqi MP did not depart from the line taken by the prime minister himself two weeks ago when he declared the principle of “blood for blood” in the case of the killing of journalist Mohammad al-Bdaiwi at the hands of a Republican Guard officer.
The killing of the journalist was exploited in a manner which has not been seen in other daily killings taking place across the country. It is an incident which took place at a time which suited the current circumstances, and which, in turn, Maliki tried to benefit from. The officer who committed the murder is Kurdish, which turned an isolated crime into a national issue that nearly ignited a new Arab–Kurdish crisis in Iraq.
Of course, linking Fatlawi’s comments, and before her Maliki’s, to the events in Iraq is not an attempt to lay all the blame for the country’s ills on them alone—this is, after all, a country where political violence kills dozens of people daily, Sunnis and Shiites, Arab, Kurds, and Turkmen alike.
However, with all this violence, it has become clear that coexistence between the different parts of the fabric of Iraqi society has been weakened to a level where a simple detail could lead to an explosion of hostile statements in the media, in its traditional or electronic form.
The country is in the midst of major internal and regional crises, and the discourse presented by Maliki is part of these crises, and can even count as one of its “faces.”
No one will be safe from the worsening situation in Iraq; and many parties are guilty. But for the prime minister and MPs from his coalition to turn the bloody discourse of sectarian violence into an official language is a major moment in history, 10 years into the experiment that is the new Iraq.
It is a rapid decline and a frantic return to a discourse which raises the slogans of revenge and blood, and drops all that remains of a state of law—if there was anything of it in the first place.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV.