Thursday, October 14, 2004

Freedom Pusher

From Baghdad Burning:
Before the war and occupation, drugs (you know- cocaine, marijuana, etc.) weren't that big a problem in Iraq. Sure, we all heard of a certain person or certain area where you could get hashish or marijuana or something… but it wasn't that common. A big reason was because selling drugs was punishable by death. Now, you can find drugs in several areas in Baghdad and all sorts of pills have become quite common in the south. People living in Basrah and Najaf and other areas in the south complain that Iranians are smuggling them into the country and selling them. Iran has a large drug trade and now, we're getting some of their exports in Iraq.

There are certain areas in Baghdad that are well-known for their criminals and various crimes, ranging from rape to kidnapping to killing. Often the culprits are junkies who do what they do because they're high on something or another, or because they need the money.

One friend of E.'s was actually detained on one occasion by some Iraqi police because he had forgotten his car's registration papers. He was hauled off to the station along with his cousin and they were both locked up in a crowded cell. Half an hour into the detention, a police officer came along with some sort of pill and offered it to the prisoners for 250 Iraqi dinars a piece.

During my more thoughtful moments, I do think about the growing drug problem. I know that it is going to get bigger and there's nothing immediate that we can do to stop it. There seem to be such bigger problems out there, that drugs seem to be the least of our worries. Schools have started again and parents worry that their kids will be abducted or blown to pieces. I think our growing drug problem hasn't gotten that much attention with the media because, while it's going to wreak havoc in the long run, drugs don't suddenly blow off an arm or a leg, and they don't explode inside of your car and they don’t come falling out of a plane to burn homes and families… in other words, people don't perceive them as a very immediate threat.

It's like discovering you have cancer while you're fighting off a hungry alligator- you'll worry about the disease later.


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