Reporters on the Job

Lessons from Marilyn: When Annia Ciezadlo visited the women's center in Karbala, Iraq, she was told that the Iraqi women there were getting death threats (page 1). Annia went to several mosques in town to see what people were saying about the center. "No one in the mosques had heard of the women's center," says Annia. Then she went to visit the offices of Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric known for opposing the US occupation. "The sheikh who manages the office thought the women's center was a great idea, but wasn't happy that [coalition administrator Paul] Bremer had come to open it.

"After a few minutes, though, his real passion surfaced. He showed us into his office, where pictures of Shiite martyrs hung on the walls. He sat us down in a circle around him. Leaning intently toward my interpreter, he asked: 'Did we know why Marilyn Monroe killed herself?' The sheikh had an answer. 'She had many fans, and they would write her many letters, asking her, "How did you become a star? What did you do to become so famous?" ' he recounted, beginning what was obviously one of his favorite stories. One fan, said the sheikh, got a letter from Marilyn (he called her "Marlene") with instructions to open it only after she was dead. It said, according to the sheikh: 'It's true, I am a star, and famous the world over. But all I ever wanted was a family. I tried to raise a family decently, and with honor, and I failed.' So, remember, fame is not worth it if you lose your honor, and lose paradise."

"Politely, we thanked him for showing us this hidden, and very traditionally Iraqi, side of Marilyn Monroe," says Annia.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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