The brothers told me a joke about the occuption. An American soldier is about to kill a Shiite, who cries, "Please, no, in the name of Imam Hussein!" The American asks who Imam Hussein was and then decides to spare the man's life. A few weeks later, this same soldier is sent to Falluja, where he's cornered by a Sunni insurgent. The soldier thinks fast and cries, "Please, no, in the name of Immam Hussein!" The insurgent says, "What, You're an Americn and a Shiite?" and blows him away.
There was a moment of laughter in the room.
I had been collecting Iraqi jokes, and I weighed telling the Shaker brothers one. There was a joke about the newlyweds in Falluja (Falluja jokes abounded in Iraq). The man asks his new bride to suck his dick. "No, no," she says, "it's haram." "We're married now," he says, "please, please do it." "I can't, it's haram". "Please." "Okay, if you cover it in honey." "Are you kidding?" If I cover it in honey, I'm sucking it".
A glance at the faces of somber Ali and devout Shamir made me file the Falluja joke away.
Then there was the joke I'd recently heard, from an Iraqi Shiite, about Ayatollah Mohamed Baqr al-Hakim, the spiritual leader of the Tehran-based Shiite political party, who had been killed by a car bomb in Najaf in August 2003. In the joke, he is blown into so many pieces that his body can't be identified. Finally, investigators bring a severed penis to his widow and apologetically ask her whether she can make a positive identification. The widow glances at the object and says, "That's not my husband. That's his driver."
This joke was so haram that I felt a quiver of fear just thinking about it.
Finally I remembered a repeatable joke. Ten Kurds locked up in a mental hospital spend six months fighting one another to look through the tiny hole in the wall of their cell. A doctor, curious, enters the cell and asks to have a look. He puts his eye to the hole for ten minutes: nothing. "There's nothing there," he says. One of the patients answers, "We haven't seen anything in six months - you expect to see something in ten minutes?" But by the time I remembered the Kurdish joke, the moment had passed.
From George Packer's The Assassins' Gate (page 266)