An Iraqi sword-maker talks to Al Jazeera about his work for Saddam Hussein and why he left the chaos of his native country for Egypt.
|Muhsin's swords were used by the former Iraqi leader |
I am Sayyed Haidar Ahmed Muhsin.
I work in the field of Arab and non-Arab swords: buying, selling, designing, manufacturing and forging.
One day, a state official came to me and asked me for a gift he wanted to offer to the former president of the republic.
He told me: "Make a sword to your liking."
He admired the sword, took it out of its sheath and admired it again.
It is then that I gained a reputation in this field and became famous at state-level.
The former prime minister offered one of my swords to Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary.
This is my sword, I made it.
I do not have anything to do with politics. I do not belong to any political faction.
I care about my work. I am proud of what I do.
Under the previous regime, my production was under embargo: all my production was considered part of the heritage, and could not be taken out of the country.
Saddam's regime was according to me like a prison, now, it is like hell.
We did not use to hear about Shias and Sunnis, or that X is Sunni and Y is Shia.
Undoubtedly, there are people who want to fuel strife and sectarian fighting between Sunnis and Shias.
I left Iraq because of the conditions it is going through.
For instance, there is no fuel, no gas, and no electricity for three to four days.
In our profession, one needs to be serene, in a good mood in order to be creative.
Once we were returning from a religious celebration in Karbala, and suddenly, we found ourselves trapped in the middle of four or five cars, and they fired on us from all sides.
We were around 41 passengers in the bus they were my closest friends and relatives, 16 of them were martyred.
|Muhsin now has a workshop in Egypt|
Four bullets hit me.
I was hearing people crying ... then I was hearing their voices fading out one after the other.
Mahmoud was a young boy working for me.
He was a kid, seeing the blood everywhere, glass being shattered, he broke the window, jumped and ran away.
They followed him, but he fell and acted as if he was dead. Maybe God wanted him to live.
They wanted to follow him, but one of them said: "Leave this one ... he is dead."
We ask God to save everyone from similar awful incidents, even the Jews and the apostates.
When the Americans arrived, life was nice.
We were saying that we have been rid of that prison and that person that was strangling us.
However, the situation began to deteriorate soon after.
What is happening in Palestine is nothing compared to what is happening in Iraq.
In Palestine, one or two persons are martyred every day. While in Iraq, it is like a mass grave every day.
The kidnapping of my son made me make up my mind.
One man called me and said: "Do not look for Abbas. Do not even notify the police. Your son is with us. Of course, he asked for a big ransom."
He called again and I called him back.
He asked me: "What is the kind of milk he drinks?"
He agreed to reduce the amount of the ransom, with the help of many friends, we were able to gather the amount of money they were asking for in return for the release of my son Abbas.
I was relieved in Egypt.
The Egyptians are good people; they are modest and good-hearted people.
Of course, I would like to return to Iraq. .. but I do not know when and how.
Maybe when the situation gets better, but who knows when? It is getting worse every day.
Source: Al Jazeera