..my breakdown and nationalist appeal seemed to impress the interrogator

Up to this point my interrogator had been speaking very quietly. Then he suddenly screamed in a voice that almost brought the roof down.

“I shall bring him this instant and hang him up here! GUARDS! Bring his father. Bring that bastard father of his!”

The tears almost drowned me out when he said this. I couldn’t see a thing and felt like a complete degenerate for having brought such pain on the man who brought me up.

Sayyidi, God preserve you, please, sayyidi, my father is paralyzed. He was one of Iraq’s nationalist officers in 1941, He is a sick man. Please, sayyidi, God preserve and watch over you, he is a great Arab nationalist.”

My breakdown and nationalist appeal seemed to impress the interrogator. I felt he respected me for the fact that I was trying to protect my father. Maybe he hadn’t known that my father had spent four years in the prisons of the ancien regime because of his role in 1941. The Rashid ‘Ali affair in 1941 is a big thing with the Ba’thists.

The following day, when I was on my ten-second Monkey Run to the toilet, I saw Nabeel, half naked, in filthy rags, just like everyone else. Nabeel had been playing the role of informer in a big charade prepared for my benefit. He was in the same boat as I was! Worse in fact. I spent forty-two days inside and was decreed innocent, whereas he, poor chap, got life imprisonment.

– “Omar”, quoted by Kanan Makiya in Cruelty and Silence (1993)

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