Falaqa & Shabah (Iraqi tortures)

A. Maberry maberry at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Wed Dec 4 17:36:33 UTC 2002

These are not unique to Saddam or to Iraq. The basic definition of
"falaqah" from Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon (1863-93) is "a thick staff
to the ends of which are attached the two ends of a rope, by means whereof
a man's legs are secured, between the rope and the staff, when he is
bastinaded." Wehr Dictionary of modern written Arabic (4th ed.) gives the
less wordy "a device for holding the legs of the delinquent during the
Also from Lane, shaba[dot below]h v. "extend or stretch (it or him)
between pegs or stakes ... [to stretch] a man between two things to be
flogged" shaba[dot below]hah by extension, the stakes themselves.

maberry at u.washington.edu

On Wed, 4 Dec 2002 Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

>    The 3 December 2002 NEW YORK POST, pg. 5, had a box on "Saddam's methods
> of torture."  One is:
> _FALAQA:_  Victims forced to lie face down and are beaten on the soles of
> feet with a cable.
>    A web search for this term also provides "shabah" or "shabeh," which is
> enlonged sitting or standing in a painful position.
>    There are many Google hits for "falaqa" and "shabah," but neither is in
> the OED (unless I'm looking under the wrong spelling).

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