Sunday, August 19, 2007

I want to say a few things about suicide bombers. I wanted to spend my holiday weekend in Meknes, so one can imagine my shock when I found a note in my email inbox saying that "Man Blows himself up, no one [else] hurt".

The entire idea of a suicide bomber is confusing to me. Not because I do not understand war or wanting to kill the enemey. But from a practical matter it is saying that it better for a person to wear some explosives and die in their delievery rather than just putting them in a box under his seat and walking off the bus. This would not raise an eyebrow in Morocco, and if it did people would be more intested in returning the box than thinking it might blow them up. In the second senerio the worst that could happen is the same thing that is almost assuredly going to happen in the first. I think to understand the "suicide bomber", more emphisis should be given to the first part, and not just the headline grabbing trajic results that come with the second.

In the time I have been in Morocco I think we have had 3 bombings. 2 in Casablanca (see other post) earlier this year and 1 now in Meknes. I assume that a Moroccan bomber is at least as intelligent as one in any other country, so their lack of getting done what they want is confusing. At first it was gallows humor. A butt of jokes, to take our mind off of the danger and risk in our lives. But, the longer I think about it and live near it the more I worry about the people who make such an odd choice for ending their lives.

If you ask people here they will say the men are "crazy". Its probaly true, mental illness is overlooked so often or papered over with a quick phrase. Clinical depression affects millions. If we passed a man on the street suffering from a bloody compound fracture of the thigh bone, we wouldnt say "the man is sick", and walk along. We would be inclined to help, and look into the cause. If we saw a rash of men around the country, prone on the ground with crimson streaked white bones poking out under their jallabas we would need to look into root of such problems, it must go further than a soccer red card. These bombings are a depressive cry for help, in an international language.

A few days ago that in Iraq petrol lorries were blown up killing hundreds. The perpetrators were mad. Pathological, but also angry. Having lived amoung Moroccans, and enjoyed cities such as Meknes, I do not think these are the same acts. It is a big place, so some people are going to be upset with forigners. Some Americans hate Arabic people. Facts of life. But, Moroccans are not an angry people and they are not xenophoic.

I suggest that a cause is that Morocco is stuck in Africa, but wishes it was invited to the European party, or was more firmly part of the Middle East. But, geography (and other things) has left it stranded out on the edge of both unable to fully realize the benifiets of a closer assoication with either. Morocco is the exotic bridesmaid. It is this sence of alienation, and the real effects of economic depression, that lie as causes of this psycosis.

Morocco is about the size of California, Ive been told. I am sure that if one were to parse though newpapers over the last year and a half in that state, there were at least 3 instances of people engaged in some anti-society act that would result in their death. Holdups, hostage taking, shoot outs. Not that much different.

To summeries: Morocco has suicide bombings not because it is full of "insurgants" or Al-Quidia ops, but because they have become a trendy way for young confused hurt Muslim men to end their lives.

Of comment. I read that the tour bus that was targeted was saved because of the quick work of the bus driver. First, I have never seen a large bus do anything quickly. They are the blue whales of the highway. Second, what visual clues does a person give off that they are going to blow themselves up. If they give any, they are doing their job poorly. If they give none, how did this driver know?

Meknes. A lot of people do not realize how great Meknes is. I love it. It is just friendly nice place that I have found is very welcoming to foreign visitors. It has all the aspects of a major Moroccan city, without being overly tackyly touristy. It is renowned for having the best candy (near and dear to my heart) and good carpets. It does not show off, to cater and pander like Marakesh. Nor does it rudely demand your attention like Fez. It quietly offers itself and that is something that I appricate very much.

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