I’ve been wanting to know for some time exactly what those Iraqi crowds were chanting in the days of Saddam (remember back then?); all I could make out was dam ‘blood’ (and of course “Saddam”). Then I went here and found, among much else worth your attention, this:

“bil rooh, bil daam nafdeek ya saddam” – we will sacrifice our soul and blood for saddam.

Which is a roundabout way of saying: Salam Pax is back. I’m much relieved, and catching up on recent Baghdad life. (Thanks for the link to Graham at MetaFilter.)

Interestingly, the saying goes back at least to 1967, though then it exalted an earlier pair of Arab leaders; from this reminiscence of Jerusalem:

The June 1967 War started when I was eleven. The days preceding it were filled with wild rejoicing. Many people took to the streets, overjoyed by the moves of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt’s president, which included ordering the United Nations Emergency Forces to withdraw from the Sinai and closing the Straits of Tiran, and King Hussein’s signing of a defense pact with Nasser. They shouted: “‘Ashaa Hussein wa Nasser” (“Long Live Hussein and Nasser”), “Bil ruh bil dam nafdikuma ya Nasser wa Hussein” (“We sacrifice our spirit and blood for you, Nasser and Hussein”)…


  1. Revisiting this post and updating the final link, I found this passage in it:

    Al-Thori, a Palestinian Muslim quarter, is a 10-minute walk from the Old City. Lying to the south of the wall, equidistant between Mount Zion to the north and the Hill of Evil Counsel to the southwest, it commands a sweeping panorama that evokes a sense of the age and the agelessness of the city. Tradition has it that al-Thori, literally “the father of the bull,” is named after Abu al-‘Abas Ahmad ibn Jamal al-Din ‘Abdallah bn Muhammad bn ‘Abd al-Jabar al-Kudsi, who inhabited this area. He was known as “al-Thori” because he rode a bull as he witnessed the capture of Jerusalem at the hands of Omar ibn al-Khattab, the second Muslim caliph, in 637 C.E. The bull was actually his messenger. Whenever “al-Thori” was unable to go shopping, he would attach the list of goods he needed to the bull’s neck, and the bull would go by itself to the city and make the usual shopping rounds.

    Of course, al-Thori is not “the father of the bull” but “the taurine”; “father of the bull” would be Abu Thor (or, better, Thawr).

  2. Thor (or, better, Thawr)

    Perhaps Levantine phonology?

  3. Oh, definitely Levantine phonology, but Arabic words are generally transliterated according to Standard Arabic unless there’s a specific reference to dialect. I wasn’t shaming the author, just giving a more standard (and googlable) version.

  4. David Marjanović says

    Not to be confused with al-Thawra, the Revolution (in Yemen at least).

  5. Just found this in a TLS review of a book on Syria, after a mention of a March 30, 2011, address to parliament by Bashar al-Assad:

    The otherworldliness of this day is well described in Assad or We Burn the Country, an analysis of the Syrian catastrophe by Sam Dagher, who was a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Damascus between 2012 and 2014. “This was the regime of make believe”, the author writes, noting the chant that resounded around the parliament: “With our soul, with our blood we sacrifice ourselves for you, O Bashar!”

Speak Your Mind