As violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinch(via Best of the Web)
By Jay Price and Qasim Zein
NAJAF, Iraq — At what's believed to be the world's largest cemetery, where Shiite Muslims aspire to be buried and millions already have been, business isn't good.
A drop in violence around Iraq has cut burials in the huge Wadi al Salam cemetery here by at least one-third in the past six months, and that's cut the pay of thousands of workers who make their living digging graves, washing corpses or selling burial shrouds.
Few people have a better sense of the death rate in Iraq ."I always think of the increasing and decreasing of the dead," said Sameer Shaaban, 23, one of more than 100 workers who specialize in ceremonially washing the corpses. "People want more and more money, and I am one of them, but most of the workers in this field don't talk frankly, because they wish for more coffins, to earn more and more." . . .
The sights and smells of working with the bodies, particularly those torn by war, are hardly pleasant, but it becomes a mundane job like any other, said Jawad Abuseba, 40.
His family has dug graves for more than 300 years, he said. His hands are thick with calluses after 22 years of digging with a shovel, basket and pickaxe. With their nails torn and their skin gray, his hands look as though they're dead, too.
"There is nothing beautiful in this career, but I cannot do any another job," Abuseba said.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Headline of the Year Candidate
Wednesday, I complained that the media was spiking Iraq stories, to avoid conceding the turn-around in stability and security. Not so fast: a reader pointed to a defiant two-month old article sniffing out those disadvantaged by peace. The headline and story ran in the McClatchy Newspapers on October 16th: