Saturday, November 13, 2004

The mourning after

Scenes from the monsters funeral:

Police fired wildly into the air to keep back the surging crowd at the West Bank compound known as the Muqata, where Arafat spent his last years as a virtual prisoner.


Frantic mourners surged toward the tomb, trampling the olive tree saplings that were planted around the grave according to Islamic tradition. One policeman knelt on the marble and kissed the tombstone. Earlier, officials tried for 25 minutes to open the helicopter door to remove the coffin onto a jeep that had plowed through the crowd to clear a path. As the coffin was carried toward the gravesite, police jumped on top of it, waved their arms and flashed the victory sign. People chanted, "With our blood and our soul we will redeem you Yasser Arafat!" Stretchers carried away two people who were trampled in the melee.


The red, white, green and black flag was ripped off the casket as it was carried through the crowd.


On Friday, teenage boys climbed onto the walls of the compound chanting, "Whoever poisoned Arafat, we will drink his blood." Others cried out, "Allahu akbar," Arabic for "God is great," and "We want to see Abu Ammar [Arafat’s nom de guerre]."

Azar Nafisi wrote on such fevered mourning episodes in her book “Reading Lolita in Tehran:”
A huge crowd of mourners had gathered, blocking the streets that led to the university. There were reports of a fight having broken out between members of the Mujahideen, a radical religious organization that claimed to be Taleghani’s spiritual and political heir, and those belonging to what was loosely called the Hizbollah, Party of Allah, mainly composed of fanatics and vigilantes determined to implement the laws of God on earth. The fight was over who should have the honor of carrying Taleghani’s body. Many were crying, beating their chests and their heads, calling out: “Today is the day of mourning! Taleghani has gone to heaven today.”

Over the next two decades, this particular chant would be used for many others, a symptom of the symbiosis between the revolution’s founders and death. That was the first time I experienced the desperate, orgiastic pleasure of this form of public mourning: it was the one place where people mingled and touched bodies and shared emotions without restrain or guilt. There was a wild, sexually-flavored frenzy in the air. Later, when I saw a slogan by Khomeini saying that the Islamic Republic survives through its mourning ceremonies, I could testify to its truth.
Nafisi saw this as a perverse release mechanism for a repressed society, only able to display emotion in the wake of death. Now, I don’t want to get all Freudian here, because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a psychotic swarm of mourning Palestinians is just a psychotic swarm of mourning Palestinians… but still, this is messed up. And I say that with some consideration. Messed. Up.

Witness the Ayatollah Khomeini’s funeral:
When the Ayatollah Khomeini died of heart failure at the age of 89, some three million mourners came to witness his send off. Several of those mourners died in the melee that followed the funeral procession and journalists at the time estimate some 11,000 people were injured. Despite a military escort, mourners "grabbed idly at Khomeini's coffin, pulling it open and exposing the Ayatollah, rending his shroud and pulling their beloved patriarch to the ground."
And, even worse, according to LGF:
Several readers pointed out the similarity between today’s Palestinian car swarming scenes and the 1989 funeral of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, at which mobs of millions (yes, millions) of Iranians stormed the funeral bier and tore Khomeini’s corpse apart in a frenzy to obtain magical relics—i.e., body parts.
Cause, you know, eye of ayatollah can cure varicose veins. And I'm pretty sure Arafats head would scare away about any known predator.


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