As they approached Daif's house, its door emblazoned with the names Muhammad and Ali, they were greeted with wails of women covered by black chadors. They screamed, waving their hands and shaking their heads. The cries drowned out the chants, as the coffin disappeared indoors. The despair poured out of the home, its windows shattered by the blast that killed Daif.
MJ: So how do you determine which stories are worth risking your life for?
AS: I've struggled with that question a lot. I don't think there's any story worth dying for, but I do think there are stories worth taking risks for. What's so regrettable to me about Ajdabiya [where Shadid was kidnapped] was that I didn't feel like that story was worth taking that risk for, and I was too late in understanding that, and at great cost: the cost of our driver's life. That's something that all four of us have to live with. I took great risks when I went into Syria illegally and without a visa. That was probably one of the greatest risks I've ever taken as a journalist, but that story felt as if it wouldn't be told if I didn't go there. That's the arithmetic that I usually rely on. And those events in Syria over the summer were seismic. It's a decision that's a lot easier to make in hindsight. Emotion and, hopefully not, but ambition often get in the way of the judgment. But you go and hope you get it right.
On a bend in the Tigris where caliphs summered when Baghdad was the City of Peace, the pontoons came first. Steel and asphalt followed. Now, two years on, the Greihat Bridge, a gesture of wartime expediency, has become permanent, traversing the river, joining two Shiite Muslim neighborhoods and, some fear, going too far.
The footbridge’s rationale is mundane: to carry Shiites from Greihat to the sacred, gold-leafed shrine in Kadhimiya, bypassing routes through Sunni neighborhoods. Its symbolism is momentous, though. Traffic is already channeled around sectarian fault lines. Blast walls besiege every neighborhood. But the Greihat Bridge, just 15 feet across and 575 feet long, is possibly the first piece of infrastructure built to reflect and accommodate the reality of a divided Baghdad, suggesting the permanence of what has been wrought.
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