Reality TV, Iraqi style

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


What to make of this report in today’s Financial Times?

Say the word mujahid — or holy warrior — these days and many inhabitants of Baghdad are likely to [snicker].

An appellation once worn as a badge of pride by anti-American insurgents has now become street slang for homosexuals, after men claiming to be captured Islamist guerrillas confessed that they were holding gay orgies in the popular Iraqi TV program Terror in the Hands of Justice.

The revelation, says the FT in a bit of ridiculous hyperbole, has “broken the mystique” of the largely Sunni insurgency. (Note that to discredit these guys it’s not enough to point out that they routinely blow innocent civilians to bits; you have to throw in that they’re into gay sex — that should do it!) But it’s also ticked off quite a few Sunnis, who don’t like the implication that they, as Sunnis, are into that sort of thing. (Orgies are said to have taken place — “usually” — in mosques.)

Turns out the program has been “immensely effective” in getting Iraqis to come forward with information about “guerrillas.”

As far as anyone can tell, these guys are real detainees. But come on! Orgies in mosques! Might it be that the men were “pushed,” as the FT delicately puts it, to make their confessions?

[Sabah Khadim, spokesman for Iraq’s interior minister] denies that the confessions were extracted by torture but has his doubts as to whether those confessing are being truthful or simply saying whatever they think their captors want to hear. He also has reservations over whether the display of prisoners on television violates the Geneva Convention. …

“If this were not an emergency situation, we would not have run this,” he says. “But it is an emergency situation, and this produces results.”

Ah, so that’s how it is.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate