"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.
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.
[In response to the first comment below, Richard added this: YesÖyou are right, it does very much sound like an 'urban legend.' The source, however, is a long trusted friend of mine who is a personal friend of the barber. My friend didnít just hear about the incident, but has visited the barber in his home after he was attacked and seen his condition. The barber, who lives with his parents, hardly ever goes outside anymore.
And 'were things better under Saddam?' When asked this question this week, two Iraqis told me, 'Before there were massacres but they were secret, now they take place openly.']
[QUOTE=Warfish]And if you believe this, I got an Aligator in the NY Sewers (a 25 footer actually) I'd be happy to sell you.[/QUOTE]
What is it about the "joke" that you find so hard to believe?
Do you not believe the 50-60-70+ dead bodies found daily in Iraq with bullets behind their ears/tortured with drills etc? Do you not believe in the ethnic cleansing that is taking place at the hands of the shia militias? Or how the lands our military has turned over to the Iraqis in the south, areas that when we left were ppeaceful, are now riddled with kidnappings torture and daily violence?
Why do I bother with you, fish? You have your head so far up your azz you cant notice what is obvious to even the blind. If you cant even recognize that Iraq is an absolute disaster there is no point talking to you anymore.