Are We To Believe and Agree with Voltaire?

“An elderly woman and a baby were reported among those killed by coalition strikes in Libya’s western mountains.”

Does this ring a bell? How many innocent women, children, and bystanders have been killed in Baghdad, or Afghanistan as a result of an error or friendly fire? And now Libya? So are we to believe and agree with Voltaire:

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

Here’s how it feels like for the people, specially women living in that situation.

“He your boyfriend?”

Startled, she turned around. Her face almost touched his. His breath smelt of liquor. It was another gunman, with light brown hair and a long uncared-for beard. He also wore a khaki uniform. His devilish eyes gazed at Nayla, scorching her, taking her in from head to toe. He licked his lips and grinned lustfully. Nayla felt her heart miss a beat. She looked away.

“Man, the Chief wants you inside,” called a loud voice.
In a moment he was gone. Nayla sighed, fighting down the panic she felt.

“Can you drive a car?”

Nayla looked up. It was the teenage-gunman with the ponytail. This time the dog was not with him.
The teenage-gunman stamped his right foot on the ground and came and sat in the car, behind the steering wheel. He seemed enraged and he drove speedily down the narrow streets. Kawkab, leaning towards Nayla, had kept her hand on Nayla’s shoulder all the time. But Nayla still felt nauseated, the same way she’d felt when the teenage gunman had shot the Labrador. His kalashnikov, cocked, was still lying in the car pointing towards Nayla. Was he going to pull the trigger? What if they were lying about Samer? Nayla shivered. As if sensing her horror the teenage gunman brought the car to a sudden stop in front of a house with green wooden windows and hooted. He was shaking with fury. Two women, an old and a comparatively younger one, both wearing black, stepped outside. The older, probably in her seventies, spoke first.

“What do you want?” she asked rudely.

“Keep the women in your house. I have to go.” He shouted through the open window of the car.

“No,” shouted back the old woman. “We are not part of your game. Take your dirty work somewhere else.” Saying this she went inside signaling to the other woman to get in with her.

“Listen! I don’t have time for this,” shouted the gunman over the open window. “Do you hear that car? It’s the Chief. I have to go and join him now.”
But the women were already inside the house. Bursting with fiery anger the gunman with the ponytail swore and started the engine.

“What do you want from us?” Kawkab asked harshly. “Why can’t you take us to my son’s place? What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you do as you’re told?” she screamed.

“I’ll tell you what’s wrong, woman. Maybe I know something you don’t. Last night, they brought home my cousin, dead. Killed. And you know who killed him? Some men from the other party,” the teenage gunman yelled this, pointing his fist towards Kawkab.
“And you know what they tell me. ‘We’ll take revenge.’ ….. he’s gone. So have many others. All are dead, man! Dead!” He drove the car down the narrow streets.

“What do you want from her?” she asked angrily. “Can’t you see she’s just a passer by? She and her husband were on their way home when you stopped them. You want revenge, go and find those who killed your people. Leave her alone. Leave us alone.”

“You think I won’t do that?” he shouted, bringing the car, to a sudden halt. He snatched his kalashnikov from where it lay in the car, opened the door and jumped out. In a moment he was gone, leaving the car door open.

“Come along, Nayla. This is the neighborhood where my son Zaki lives nowadays with some friends. He moved out when he joined the militia. I see him once in a while. The sight of him, in uniform and carrying a gun, terrifies me.” Kawkab sighed as she got out of the car and held the door open for Nayla.

Nayla stepped out for the first time that morning and looked around her. On the other side of the street a group of three men in khaki uniform stood conversing. One of them, the one with black sunglasses and hands in his pocket, walked towards the two women. She recognized him. He was the one she had given the note to, the one with the wife and two kids. Could they have been driving in circles then? What were the gunmen trying to do? Were they waiting to kill him and afterwards rape and torture her and perhaps leave her on the street to die? What have they done to him? She wanted to ask him about Samer. She opened her mouth to speak but the words wouldn’t come out. She could hear her teeth chatter in her mouth. She was shaking all over. Her feet gave way. The gunman grabbed her by the shoulders to prevent her from falling on the ground, while Kawkab ran inside a house. A glass in her hand, she hurried back.
“Drink this!” she ordered Nayla. “It’s water with some sugar in it. It’s good for you.”

She couldn’t hold the cup in her hands. Kawkab held it for her to drink. She wasn’t trembling anymore. She felt so weak. She couldn’t even feel the glass on her lips. They were so numb. She was so very numb.
Kawkab helped her sit back in the car. Then turning around she screamed at the gunman with black sunglasses, hysterically. “See what you’ve done to her? Why? Why you do this to innocent people always? This is all so stupid. This is madness. The whole country has gone crazy.” She wiped her eyes with the back of her right hand and in a desperate voice asked the gunman, “Do you like what you do, son? Honestly?”

I salute you dear Eman Al-Obeidy and all the women and girls out there who were not as lucky as Nayla was that day in the hands of those gunmen. My thoughts and prayers are with you and condolences to all those who didn‘t survive such a horrific ordeal.


Taken from The Lost I

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2 Responses to Are We To Believe and Agree with Voltaire?

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