Baghdad Burning

Last night, I watched Baghdad Burning in Volkstheater. I hope it will be on programme next season – if you are in Vienna and understand German, go see it.The peace (1h20min monologue excellently played by Katharina Vötter) is based on a blog written by an Iraqi woman who started writing under pseudonym Riverbend on 17 August 2003. In her blog, she describes life in Iraq during the US occupation. Although the blog has been published in two books and staged in numerous countries, her identity is still hidden. In 2007, she and her family moved to Syria and she stopped writing her blog. The fascinating thing about the piece is that it makes you grasp, more emotionally, the stuff you think you already know – what it means to live in a war (“war on TV is not same like living in a war”, “will a plane ever sound like it did before?”), the chaos which took over since the occupation (controls, razzias, life without electricity and water and the kidnapping which became part of everyday life), how the status of women has changed (before the occupation, 50% of university students and 50% of employees were women – now they are accepted to stay home and wear headscarves and long coats). You will learn how the fear and the chaos passed a moderate Muslim country into the hands of fundamentalists. You will learn about what “rebuilding of Iraq” really means. When for rebuilding of a bridge, which Iraqi experts estimated to $300,000, a US company get $50 million, the business case of this war is quite clear. When you add the war industry and the oil industry to the rebuilding industry, the business case is even clearer. But mostly, you will ask yourself (hopefully) how can a country attack and completely devastate a country under false pretences, kill hundreds of thousands of people and stay unpunished. Will countries like USA and Israel keep their carte blanche for ever? And that is the tragedy of the story.

Links: Riverbend Wikipedia