October 26, 2005

A View Of The Square





Reading the NYT front page story yesterday about the car bombings in Baghdad at the Palestine and Sheraton hotels, I just didn’t imagine it that large.  It wasn’t until I saw the pictures that the scale really came home to me.

In the article, however, The Times also made a point of emphasizing the symbolism of this attack, explaining how Firdos Square ( as photographed from the balcony of the Palestine) has been one of the primary windows through which the world has observed the war.


(Larger version available at NYT story here.)

More than the aerial view of the explosions, what seemed more fateful to me was this image of The 14th of Ramadan Mosque The Times ran on-line.

(If you check the photo caption, the mosque is not referred to
specifically. In general, however, it is hardly ever mentioned and even
more rarely named.)

Talking Head

Thinking about the mosque, I began wondering: What have been the more notable scenes in this setting (beyond the repeated view of talking heads from the days of "shock and awe")?


The backdrop marked the last hurrah for Peter Arnett (the star
of Gulf War 1) before he was fired by NBC for telling Iraqi television
that the U.S. war plan against Saddam Hussein had failed.


On April 7, 2003, the Palestine, itself, came under attack from
a U.S. tank which was supposedly retaliating against rooftop snipers.
One cameraman was killed.


On April 9th 2003, the square’s statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down in a staged  demonstration orchestrated by the U.S. military.


And on April 9, 2005 (as on many occasions), the square become
been a rallying point to oppose America’s presence in Iraq, as well as
the greater Middle East.

This might sound callous, but I can’t help thinking the guys
fighting us have got their own Karl Rove. (Of course, he probably
doesn’t have to work as hard given the tendency to do ourselves in.)

(images 1-4: Reuters Pool. October 24,
2005. Firdos Square, Baghdad. Via YahooNews. image 5: Scott
Nelson/World Picture News, for The New York Times. Firdos Square,
Baghdad. October 25, 2005. nyt.com. image 6: unattributed. Firdos
Square, Baghdad. Via GeekTimes (
link);  image 7: Reuters.  March 26, 2003. Via GeekTimes (link); image 8: CBS Webcam. April 7, 2003. Palestine Hotel, Baghdad. Via GeekTimes (link).
image 9: www.kokogiak.com. image 10: unattributed. April 9, 2005.Firdos
Square, Baghdad. Christian Peacemaker Teams. www.cpt.org)

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus