Life in Baghdad normal, says Malaysian student


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 27 Mar 2003

By SIRA HABIBU

PENANG: It is more frightening to watch images of the US-led coalition forces invasion on television than to live in Baghdad, according to one of three Malaysian students who had refused to leave the Iraqi capital. 

Mohamad Abdullah Osman, who is pursuing his masters in Hadith at Saddam University in Baghdad, said images of the heavily “bombarded” city shown over television did not reflect the actual situation there. 

“In my neighbourhood, I still see children playing football and women going to the market as usual. 

“We do not hear loud explosions every day. But clips of images by the foreign media showed as if Baghdad is heavily bombarded,” he said when contacted by telephone in Baghdad yesterday.  

Besides Mohamad, the two others are Rozainy Ghazali of Terengganu and Mohamad Manan Bajuri of Selangor. 

Mohamad, who is staying in a rented house together with Manan, claimed the foreign media failed to report the numerous missiles successfully intercepted by the Iraqis. 

“My friends and I made it a point to check out the neighbouring areas the coalition claimed to have bombed. Often, we see those places still intact,” he said. 

“But the explosion two days ago in a neighbourhood about 1km from where I am staying was real. Six civilians were killed, including a family of four. 

“One of the houses that was hit belonged to an army general based in Basra. His wife and children whom he left behind perished in the attack.” 

Mohamad described the massive sandstorm sweeping through Baghdad and southern Iraq as a sign of divine intervention, “because in my eight years in Baghdad, I have never seen a sandstorm of this proportion before.” 

He also said he declined to leave not because he was stubborn but that he wanted to complete his course by January. 

“We were not given a guarantee by the Malaysian authorities that we could continue our courses at local universities there,” he said. 

“And I am glad I stayed on because many foreigners, including Thai students, Canadians and staff of the French and Russian embassies are also staying put,” he said. 

Mohamad said the university authorities had informed him that classes for masters students would resume on Saturday, adding that the university was closed for about a week following the war alert. 

Mohamad’s 56-year-old mother, who declined to be named, said she was praying for the safety of her son and that of Iraq every day. 

“If I had known earlier that the US would attack Iraq, I would have made my way to Baghdad to stay with my son,” she said. 

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