Hehe: de tuin van Eden

Hehe: de tuin van Eden ligt in Irak.

Before the rule of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqis sought to turn this spot into a tourist attraction. A low wall surrounds a small area of riverbank.

This supposedly protects the place where, according to Genesis: “The Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden . . . and the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground, trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.”

In fact, the Garden contains five small trees, none of which sprout any fruit. One has a green cloth tied to a branch, identifying it as the Tree of Life.

This, according to Genesis, was the tree beneath whose green leaves God placed Adam. Today, every inch of bark has been stripped from its trunk and the branches are lifeless.

Litter is strewn all around the tree and dirty rags blow across the concrete flagstones. Not a single flower or blade of grass grows.

Instead, the garden displays the central propaganda message of Saddam’s regime. On the wall, someone has sprayed in Arabic script: “Down with America.”

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