I was working in a village north of Basra a few weeks ago when news broke of the attack, apparently by Americans, on the Imam Ali shrine. I thought to myself: « That’s it. Tomorrow there will be an uprising that will involve all the southern ‘governates’, and I’ll be trapped here alone. » I couldn’t sleep that night, as I was preparing plan B and plan C to find my way back to Baghdad (I assumed the roads would be blocked when the uprising began). But the next morning kids were walking to school in the regular numbers I see every day, there were many cars in the street, and everything seemed normal. When I got to my clinic, I asked my assistant, Abu Hasan, a local man, about this strange peace. What did he think of the American attack? Abu looked shocked: « Dr Omar, this was a very naive try from Muqtada al-Sadr to drag us into his war. We all know that his fellow thieves are responsible for the attack, we know where he positioned his guns and we know where the Americans were. It can’t be anyone but Muqtada. » Here I got really confused. No uprising? No civil war? The Americans didn’t attack the shrine? Then I realised, because I’d spent several earlier months outside of Iraq, that I’d begun to believe the media.

Comme je le disais, ce qui compte c’est que les Iraqiens eux-mêmes ne croient pas aux mensonges des médias.

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