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8 October 2011
*IRAQ EULOGY: Remembering Sattar Hattem*
by Stewart Vriesinga
[Note: Hattem’s death has prompted outpourings of deep feeling from CPTers
who served in Baghdad.]
I am saddened to know Sattar Hattem has passed away. I had the great
privilege of being on team in Iraq when he was our translator and mentor.
Allan Slater said it well: in his quiet way, he embodied so much of what we
were trying to be. Sattar was so much more than a translator. I think he
shared our vision and shaped and helped us /become/ what we wanted to be.
He was humble, reflective and quiet, and a very deep listener. When he
did speak, it was always heart-felt and well considered. He opened our eyes
to our own cultural blind spots, and would gently and lovingly explain to us
when our actions and proposed actions might be misconstrued in the local
context and be counter-productive in terms of what we were actually trying to
accomplish. And he was a Muslim who clearly understood and fully supported
the essence of what it was we were trying to accomplish.
One such incident that comes to mind happened during a public action. After
a scripture reading, I placed the Bible on the ground. Sattar quickly
picked it up, and later explained to me that in the Muslim/Iraqi context it
is /haram/–a sin–to place a holy book on the ground. (In the Muslim
/Iraqi context, holy books include the Torah and Christian Bible as well as
I understand that he died of heart failure. I am not surprised. There is
probably a limit to how much an open heart can take. Maybe Sattar simply
loved too much.
I will always be grateful for everything he taught us.
CPT's MISSION: What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline
and sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war? Christian
Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks to enlist the whole church in organized,
nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in
regions of lethal conflict.
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