Saturday, January 29, 2005


Dr Majeed

We keep hearing stories of professionals being attacked, kidnapped, threatened or simply killed all the time in chaotic, free-for-all Iraq. Knowing the intimate details of such incidents frequently makes them even more senseless or incredible.

Dr. Majeed is a specialist doctor in his mid-fifties. I have known him personally for years. He is extremely competent, dedicated to his profession, well known and an authority in his field. As a person, he is caring and compassionate, completely secular, non-sectarian and apolitical. After the invasion, senior government positions were up for grabs; many of his colleagues approached one political party or another with an eye on a senior job; he never did. He went on with his work more or less as before.

He usually only sees patients by appointment; However, due to the difficulties in communication and transportation, his clinic usually swarms with people… people reporting results of tests, people asking about a replacement medicine to one that is unavailable, people from the provinces, etc.

A few weeks ago, I heard that Dr. Majeed was shot by someone who broke into his clinic, so I went to see him a few days after the incident. The following narrative is taken from his own account.

He was seeing a patient in his surgery when the door was pushed open; he saw a young man whom he knew as a patient of his for a number of years. As soon as he entered the room, the young man pulled out a gun and fired three shots in succession at Dr. Majeed from a distance of less than 4 meters. As soon as the man pulled the gun, Dr. Majeed jumped to his feet in reflex. He received two bullets in his abdomen and one in the palm of his left hand.

The young man turned and left. On his way out he stopped and fired two shots at the receptionist (probably because his knew him). There were about 20 people in the waiting room. Some of them overpowered him and took the gun away. Some of those present volunteered to take the man to the police. He is now waiting for trial.

His story to the investigating judge was that he was insulted by the receptionist, so he lost control of himself and did what he did. Well, that was a pretty weak story, since there were more than 20 witnesses to the fact that he did not have a word with the receptionist on his way in.

The man is in his early twenties, a second-year college student. Dr. Majeed knows him rather well and assured me that he believed there was nothing wrong with the man's mental state. He also believed that he was not a religious fanatic of some sort. He has no grievance or grudge against Dr. Majeed and was always on the best of terms with him.

Dr. Majeed still has no clue as to why he was shot or who might be behind it. His son, who is a young doctor, and a close friend of my own son, was of the opinion that they should get the word out that Dr. Majeed was making plans to leave the country. Dr. Majeed didn't agree. He thought that if someone out there is determined to have him killed, that would only incite them to implement their plans in more haste. He believed that he had escaped certain death… but has no idea what to do with his life next.

Can you make any sense of this?

A few days ago, the good doctor took his family and left the country.

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