Published in the Village Voice, March 2003
By Tess Taylor
On the rainy Thursday morning after the first bombs fell Baghdad, six women in
burkhas made slow processions through the streets of Manhattan. While their costumes were reminiscent of those Iraqi woman might wear, their bellies displayed statistics from the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. "23 million people live in Iraq. Half are children," and "90 % of war casualties are civilians." Two women's stomachs bore hand painted images of fetuses. The women, none of whom were Muslim, were organized by artist Adelle Lutz and supported by the arts organization Creative Time. "I wanted to help put a face to those people who have not been seeing throughout this conflict," Lutz said.
As they visited neighborhoods as varied as Battery Park City and Rockefeller Center, each woman kept a meditation in mind: May you be healthy; may you be happy; may you live with ease of heart and ease of mind; may you live in safety; may you live in peace.
"It was a very quiet kind of protest," said Lutz, who walked for 12 hours. "Every neighborhood was different. Sometimes it was hostile. People threw cigarettes at us, or swore. One man yelled, 'Bomb now. Let God sort it out later.'" Other passersby were suspicious. "A few Muslims were concerned that we were wearing these costumes. Many women in Iraq don't wear them," Lutz said. "But I think once they understood they were glad, even grateful. Many people said, thank you, thank you."