2017 Men of the Year: Cig-Smoking Iraqis

A man smokes his first cigarette after fleeing Mosul
A man smokes his first cigarette after fleeing Mosul / Getty Images
December 26, 2017

When New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi toured towns outside of Mosul following ISIS control, she noticed that many of the residents were publicly smoking in a giant eff you to their former oppressors.

"Yesterday, my team made it to the furthest point I've gone northwest of Mosul to the locality of Badoosh, where we interviewed residents," Callimachi tweeted in April. "I noticed that everywhere we went in Badoosh, residents were 'wearing' packs of cigarettes."

One such man named Mohamed Ahmed Saleh approached her. "He's a cow herder, and he asked my colleague to light his cigarette when we got out of the car," she reported.

After ISIS left, Saleh chain-smoked four whole packs in defiance. "I just like to walk around holding it in my hand because I can," he told Callimachi.

Another man told her that during ISIS' reign people would receive 20 lashes if they were caught smoking, but he braved the punishment anyway. Towards the end, ISIS escalated to chopping off fingers.

"In all I interviewed six people who'd smoked in defiance of IS' ban," Callimachi reported. "'I'm addicted,' said one. 'But I also wanted to do it to show resistance.'"

Today, the people of Badoosh are free. But alas, smokers in America's largest cities still face the tyranny of nanny state mayors. In recognition of their bravery in the face of Islamic extremists and their inspiration to those of us still living under the yoke of oppression, Mohamed and his friends are all Washington Free Beacon Men of the Year.

Published under: Men of the Year