Posted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:04 pm Post subject: NO JOKES ALLOWED
"So Muqtada al-Sadr goes to JapanÖ" the barber tells his customer who was already smiling, bracing himself in the chair for a laugh. The barber tells the best jokes in Baghdad.
"So Muqtada is in Tokyo and meeting with officials and all of the top Japanese people and itís a very big deal," the barber continues, as the customerís hair falls on the floor in tufts.
"So Muqtada asks for a meeting, you know with who? No, you donít know," he says. "It wasnít with Japanese arms merchants or the army, but with the Toyota company. Do you know why?
"No," says the customer, ready for the big punch line.
"Because he wanted them to make the trunks of their cars bigger."
Like a good comedian, the barber laughs, enticing the customer to laugh even harder.
Toyotas are very common in Baghdad, and especially popular with Muqtada al-Sadrís Mahdi Army. They often stuff bodies in the trunks.
No laughing matter
But another customer in the barbershop didnít laugh. He was quietly having a haircut in another chair. He was one of those Mahdi Army men who kills people and stuffs them in the trunks of Toyotas.
The next day he went to visit the barbers and his customers to discuss their "inappropriate humor."
The conversations went like this:
The Mahdi army fighter tied the barber up, took a knife and plucked out both of his eyes. He was only left alive because he was Shiite, like the Mahdi Army.
The customer who laughed at the joke, a Sunni, was killed and stuffed in the trunk of a car, although the friend of the barber who told me the story this morning didnít know if the car was a Toyota.
I'm surprised the humourless customer waited until the next day. The religion of peace... right....
It may be just me, but I don't think religion was the motivating factor behind this story. To me, it was a story of ethnic divides and those who have (had) power vs those that don't have power. If this story was set in the former Yugoslavia, I would believe it there too. (of course I'm setting myself up because there is debate about whether that conflict was religious or ethnic too).
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