In early June of this year there was a highly publicized controversy over a video which appeared on YouTube of an U.S. Marine performing a song entitled Hadji Girl. The song had been performed last year before U.S. troops in Iraq, who could be heard wildly cheering and laughing in the background as the song describes a U.S. Marine ducking into a Burger King during battle in Iraq and meeting an Iraqi girl, whom the soldier calls “Hadji Girl.”* The punch lines of the song are as follows:
…she took me down an old dirt trail. And she pulled up to a side shanty And she threw open the door and I hit the floor. Cause her brother and her father shouted… Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah They pulled out their AKs so I could see And they said… Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah (with humorous emphasis:) So I grabbed her little sister, and pulled her in front of me. As the bullets began to fly The blood sprayed from between her eyes And then I laughed maniacally Then I hid behind the TV And I locked and loaded my M-16 And I blew those little f*ckers to eternity. And I said… Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
They should have known they were f*ckin’ with a Marine.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the song and performance, as did the Marine Corps, announcing an intention to investigate. But pro-war Americans defended the song as “funny,” the author explained that the Arabic words were actually from a South Park movie, and in short order the author became a sort of hero among pro-war conservatives, even announcing at one point that he was recording the song and taking the show on the road.
Shortly thereafter, 14-year-old ‘Abir Hamzah was brutally gang-raped, then burned by soldiers after her family—father, mother, and younger sister, had been shot by them. The soldiers who murdered her had been sexually harassing her (described as “making advances” towards her) every day as she passed through a checkpoint near her home to do chores for her family. She was scared and had told her mother about it several times, and her mother had spoken with friends and even asked whether her daughter could stay with them. Several times the soldiers had staged searches of the family home, presumably in the course of planning the rape and murders.
A neighbor who was an eyewitness to the murders described troops storming the home, then more troops returning within hours to explain that the murders and rape were the work of terrorists, although neighbors knew the family was Sunni, highly respected, and would not have been targeted by terrorists. Some months passed, soldiers who knew what had happened confided in a counselor who reported what he was told to superiors, and this July, nearly four months after the fact, six arrests were made, including the arrest of a discharged soldier living in the United States., Steven Green, 21, who is said to a have masterminded the attack. Green was discharged shortly after the attacks as a danger to civilians because he had a “personality disorder.”
‘Abir’s rape mimics not only the song, “Hadji Girl,” but imagery from the now-defunct “Iraqbabes” website which featured photos of U.S. troops raping Iraqi women. One horror of U.S. culture is that all that has to be done to make rapes less than “real” in the public imagination is to turn them into pornography.
And one of the horrors of our culture in general is that a song written by a Marine officer celebrating soldiers shooting a small girl in the head becomes wildly popular and is defended as “funny.”
Viewed a certain way, the rape of ‘Abir Hamzah and the murder of her family are a metaphor for the entirety of the war on Iraq. Just as U.S. troops stalked ‘Abir Hamzah and watched her house, the United States watched Iraq, stalked it, with an eye to its oil, especially, and finally attacked. Just as ‘Abir complained of harassment, so Iraq complained to the world community, insisting it was not affiliated with Al-Qaeda and did not possess weapons of mass destruction. And just as, in the end, no one was able to help ‘Abir and her family, so far no one has been able to help Iraq.
*The word “hadji” is an ethnic slur against Middle Eastern women which is widely used by U.S. troops.
Sources: Today in Iraq, JusOne News, Hijabi Madness, The Guardian. CAIR (Council on Arab-Israeli Relations), Universal Society of Friends site, Hadji Girl Video, Hadji Girl Lyrics