"The Americans are creating enemies by the way they are treating people," said Feras Khalil, a psychology teacher. He said his house was hit with a 10-minute fusillade of American gunfire on Saturday evening after an attacker standing on the street fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the mayor's office, where a contingent of paratroops was stationed. The soldiers, who believed the grenade was fired from inside Khalil's house, responded with 40 Mark-19 grenades, a light antitank weapon and 1,000 rounds of small-arms fire.
"There is no justification for what they did," Khalil growled as he pointed at dozens of bullet pockmarks on the front of his two-story stucco house.
Khalil said he initially welcomed American troops as liberators, assuming they would quickly hold democratic elections, invigorate the economy and fund public works projects. "They promised us a lot," he said. "We haven't gotten anything from them."
Instead, he argued, U.S. troops have made matters worse by behaving in culturally insensitive ways. "The male soldiers search our women," he said. "When they arrest people, they put their shoes on people's heads," a grave insult in the Arab world.
Although such actions were rare and were prohibited by American commanders early in the occupation, residents say such offenses are now a daily occurrence.
"We are a very traditional city," Khalil said. "They don't understand our culture and customs -- and that angers us."
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.