Ironic Parallel of Emigration, Disdain of West

Rebecca Joubin


A Film by Mahmoud Al Massad

Icarus Films

2008, 90 minutes

This subtle documentary takes us into the heart of Zarqa, Jordan's second largest city and birthplace of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the deceased leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The film is told through the eyes of Abu Ammad, a former owner of a grocery store who now supports his two wives and children by collecting cardboard for recycling. We follow him around on his daily routine, and listen to his conversations with friends about the rise of violence in the name of Islam, the 9/11 attacks in America, and about the importance for Muslims to stop immigrating to Western, non-Muslim societies. In his conversations, we see anger toward the West, but we also witness the ironic interest in exodus to countries such as America to escape poverty. A television clip of a son who begs his father's forgiveness for living in the West reinforces this theme. We watch as the father considers whether he can forgive his son, and the son looks on with desperation awaiting his answer.

Later, we see Abu Ammad arrested, accused of being involved in the 2005 hotel bombings in Amman. Upon release, he decides to leave Jordan. He sends a letter to his mother, begging forgiveness and asking her to protect his wives and children in his absence. “Recycle” very powerfully and harmoniously addresses the ironic way terrorism and hatred of the West parallel emigration to the West to escape an impoverished existence.

This review appears in Al Jadid, Vol. 15, no. 60 (2009)

Copyright (c) 2009 by Al Jadid

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