Falluja residents return
home after Operation Extreme
Falluja . . . . More than a quarter of a million
residents of the Iraqi town of Falluja will this week return to their homes
for the first time since US Marines completed what has been described as
the largest Extreme Home Makeover Show ever. Broadcast live over television
news stations worldwide, 'Operation Extreme Makeover: Falluja Edition'
involved more than 12,000 Marines who changed the lives of Falluja residents
as they re-designed, re-modelled and re-decorated houses throughout the
entire town in a full-scale assault that lasted over a week.
Residents returning to Falluja may be "a little
US Marines supported by heavy tanks, artillery, helicopter
gunships and ground attack strike aircraft descended on Falluja in mid-November,
sending the residents of Falluja away to refugee camps in the surrounding
desert for 7 days while they transformed the impoverished desert town into
a bombed-out, smouldering, impoverished desert town.
US military officials warned returning residents that
they "may be a little shocked."
"When we were told to leave the town for the makeover
and come back two weeks later, we really did not know what to expect,"
said Fatima Hassan, 45. "I must say I'm not disappointed - there is just
so much more natural lighting in the house now that those Maverick missiles
have blown the roof away," she said.
"Thanks to just a few high-explosive rounds from an M1A1
Abrams tank, the four cramped bedrooms of my house are now one big, gorgeous
open-air studio room," said Saleem Abu Firdaus, 56, as he proudly examined
his gutted and smouldering living room.
"My husband was always complaining that there was too much
clutter in our house," said Mariam Hafizi, 34. "After the phosphorus bombs
from the first night's artillery barrage set fire to all our worldly possessions,
the house now has so much more storage space we can utilise."
US tanks give this Falluja school a thorough makeover
|"My friends were always telling
me that my clay wall exteriors were just too plain and dull," said Mohamed
Zakawi, 35. "It's just amazing how much texture and character a spray of
bullets from a 50-calibre heavy machine gun and the odd few shell holes
can give a wall surface."
Aisha Kasim, 34, said that her front garden was boring
and unexciting before the Marines re-modelled it. "The three bomb craters
there would now make excellent lily ponds and water features - now all
we need is a water supply."
"Unexploded shells and mines have also made my regular
evening stroll in the garden a completely new experience," Aisha added.
Coalition forces also created more open recreation spaces
and parking lots in the town by completely levelling 80 of the town's
"Thanks to the US Marine Corps, I now know exactly what
George Bush and Tony Blair mean now when they talk of rebuilding Iraq,"
said teacher Faruq Sabri as he looked around the pile of burning rubble
that used to be his neighbourhood school.
In the final week, viewers will get to vote to keep their
favourite contestant in prison. The one receiving the least number of votes
each night is, however, not forced to leave - in fact, unlike similar reality
shows, no one actually gets to leave.
|'Extreme Makeover: Falluja Edition' is just
the latest in a series of reality TV projects being implemented by Coalition
Forces in Iraq as the country prepares itself to embrace Western-style
democracy and values. In another successful programme, "I'm in Abu Ghraib,
Get Me Out Of Here!", ordinary Iraqis leave behind their coddled lives
without electricity and water supply and rough it out in a well-known torture
prison. Living manacled, cuffed, chained and hooded during their stay there,
the willpower and fitness of contestants is tested with a daily routine
of regular beatings and abuse by US prison guards. Guards choose a prisoner
each night to carry out a dare or special task - such as mild electrocution
or having objects inserted into their orifices or being made to crawl around
the prison led by a leash.
"I'm in Abu Ghraib, Get Me Out Of Here!"
Iraq's version of 'Big Brother', on the other hand, has
a dozen or so leading Iraqi celebrities locked in a building called the
Iraqi Governing Council. Isolated from the real world in a Baghdad district
called the Green Zone, contestants are, from time to time, given tasks
assigned to them by Big Brother - known in real life as George W Bush -
and these would include chores such as ordering the complete destruction
of towns opposed to the US occupation, handing over oil contracts to Haliburton,
approving large increases of US troops in the country and other menial
A panel of celebrity judges consisting of senior White
House and Pentagon officials and neo-conservatives will help eliminate
contestants each week, leaving one lucky winner the undisputed leader of
Iraq at the end of the season. The winner of 'Big Brother: Iraq' will be
sworn in as President of Iraq on January 31st in a gala two-hour finale
broadcast live from Baghdad.
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