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Iraqis revive ancient word `ulooj' to insult, greet U.S. troops

by oo-LOOZH Thursday, Jan. 08, 2004 at 9:28 PM

Pigs of the desert, foreign infidels, little donkeys, medieval crusaders, bloodsuckers and horned creatures!

Iraqis revive ancien...
crusaders_ulooj.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x273

Iraqis revive ancient word `ulooj' to insult, greet U.S. troops By Hannah Allam Knight Ridder Newspapers Mon, Jan. 05, 2004 BAGHDAD, Iraq - College students whisper the word when they spot U.S. troops in Baghdad streets. Vandals scrawl the word across military vehicles. Sneering taxi drivers mutter it when convoys block their cabs. "Ulooj," they say, and while some use it with disdain and others more lightheartedly, it's unmistakably not a nice reference - though what precisely the ancient term from Arabic literature means depends on whom you ask. Among the translations offered: pigs of the desert, foreign infidels, little donkeys, medieval crusaders, bloodsuckers and horned creatures. While no one can quite pin down the original definition, Iraqis agree on the modern definition: "It's the American military," said Maria Hassan, a 23-year-old history major at a university in Baghdad. "We use this word from the past for our occupiers of the present." The revival of "ulooj" (pronounced oo-LOOZH) is the handiwork of Mohammed Saeed al Sahaf, the alternately comical and caustic information minister from the former Iraqi regime. In the first days of the war, Sahaf sent Iraqis running for their dictionaries when he used the word in a speech to describe advancing U.S. forces. Today, "ulooj" lingers as the unofficial national nickname for American soldiers, even among many who profess support for the U.S. presence. "The Americans always use fancy words for their operations here - Desert Storm, Iron Grip - so we should also have special names for them," said Ahmed Kandeel, a 20-year-old Egyptian who attends university in Iraq. "What does `ulooj' mean, anyway? Isn't it `pigs of the desert?' " Ali al Khateeb, who translated Sahaf's live remarks into English for foreign journalists during the war, said he was stumped the day his former boss mentioned "ulooj" at a news conference. Khateeb said he racked his brain for a suitable translation as Western reporters stared at him with impatience. He finally settled on "the enemy" for lack of a better definition. "I went to my old professors after that press conference to ask them for a more precise word," said Khateeb, who's now a producer for an Arabic-language satellite TV station. "One told me it means `little donkeys' and the other said it's `big monsters with small minds.' No one can say for sure. It was an obsolete word before the war." Few soldiers are aware of their new moniker. Iraqi children delight in shouting it as they smile and wave to passing U.S. troops, who happily return what they think is a genuine greeting.

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 34 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Typical right-wing, pro-war GOON LKJ Friday, Jan. 09, 2004 at 9:00 AM
where's the shredder? Ha ha Sunday, Feb. 29, 2004 at 7:44 AM
And your buzz lips told you so Yup Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 7:46 AM
Simple Simple Simon Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 8:47 AM
let me just say this Yup Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 9:19 AM
Simple Simple Simon Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 9:38 AM
sure Yup Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 10:53 AM
Simple Simple SImon Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 1:30 PM
ha Yup Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 1:43 PM
Simple Simple Simon Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 2:42 PM
simpering simon Yup Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 3:26 PM
This Yup character is clearly insane GD Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 4:11 PM
that's right Garrage door/Bush Admirer Yup Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 5:03 PM
So now we know -> Yup = Sheepdog GD Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 5:19 PM
sure Ha ha Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 5:35 PM
oh and hey... Sheepdog Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 5:46 PM
no more victicrats. Walker, Texas Ranger Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 6:39 PM
Klaxon alarm . Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 6:45 PM
Simple Simple Simon Monday, Mar. 01, 2004 at 8:56 PM
and this comment... Sheepdog Tuesday, Mar. 02, 2004 at 10:09 AM
Dumbass Comment of the Year Award Goes to Ku Klux Klaxon Walker, Texas Ranger Wednesday, Mar. 03, 2004 at 2:33 AM
ooooooo! hit another nerve! Wednesday, Mar. 03, 2004 at 4:37 AM
Bush will win in 2004, sorry commies, there's the door Walker, Texas Ranger Thursday, Mar. 04, 2004 at 4:49 PM
Walker, I think you're exactly correct Herman Schwartz Thursday, Mar. 04, 2004 at 5:05 PM
GD not good enough for you, Bush Admirer? Ha ha Thursday, Mar. 04, 2004 at 5:09 PM
Kerry is going to win Ear to the Ground Thursday, Mar. 04, 2004 at 5:34 PM
Bush hasn't pissed off many people Charlie Menefee Thursday, Mar. 04, 2004 at 7:16 PM
Bush is going to lose, FACT. Ear to the Ground Friday, Mar. 05, 2004 at 5:40 PM
The economy has been improving Dumbo Charlie Menefee Friday, Mar. 05, 2004 at 6:44 PM
Record Budget Deficits for years to come Ear to the Ground Friday, Mar. 05, 2004 at 7:01 PM
Macroeconomics Scottie Saturday, Mar. 13, 2004 at 4:34 PM

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