Thursday, November 20, 2003

Iraqi Orchestra Concert

I'm really good at finding the "good news" articles in our press. Here's a tip, don't look for the good news under the front page, search under pages that nobody clicks on. It's sad but true about our press. So, I found the following good news coming from Iraq:

Iraqi orchestra moves into new home, practices for U.S. concert

The orchestra will have a concert in Washington with the U.S. National Symphony Orchestra on December 9th.

If you live in Washington area and can afford a ticket, please go and listen to their performance. We're proud of them. I feel there will be a modern Iraq if we keep the music going.

I'm really afraid for my native country to end up with an Iranian-style Islamic government. I know Iraqis are smarter than that. I also know the American administration does not want to interfere with Iraqis choice of government type. May be they should in this case as there's no point of getting rid of Saddam just to end up with a worse government.

It's my only worry. So, let's keep the music going.

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Sunday, November 16, 2003

Soldiers' Mothers

Sam - Hammorabi blogger asked me in an e-mail why I didn't talk about the Iraqis who haven't seen their mothers for many years.

I explained to him that I needed to spread the story of the American mother first before I got to family matters. Still, Mrs. Schulz (the mother in the story) is a woman who could've simply hated everything related to Iraq, instead she's helping make a difference in her own way. I also needed any readers from the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) area to try to contribute to her project. My household did and that's the least we could do for her. We are sending many small toys for the soldiers to give to Iraqi children. The deadline to help is Monday, November 24, 2003.

What's a "typical Iraqi family"? Let's talk about my family, which I call "The United Nations." My dad and mom both hold American green cards and live in America since last year. My oldest sister holds Irish and British citizenships and lives in England for the last 20 years or so. She left Iraq when I was only 11 years old. My oldest brother holds Canadian citizenship and lives in Canada. My younger brother holds Australian citizenship and lives in Australia. My youngest brother holds American citizenship and lives in America. My younger sister holds the American citizenship and lives in America. My youngest sister still lives in Iraq and is waiting on her visa to join my parents in America.

Then, there's me. I'm an Australian and live in America.

Would that give you an idea why I call my family "The United Nations"?

If anyone told me or any of my siblings 30 years ago that these would be our destinations, we would've just laughed. We loved our native country as any other Iraqi. But, we chose to leave our homes in Iraq and just wander wherever the winds would take us.

Why? One word: Security.

I got tired of war. I suffered it since I was 15. I reached age of 28 and decided I had enough. There was no point of staying in a country with a ruler whose favorite game was "WAR."

Thunderstorms still scare me and remind me of war. Each time I hear them, I think it's a bomb. Actually, I'm better than my Lebanese friend who once had to hide under the kitchen's sink during a bad thunderstorm in Sydney, Australia. She lived in Beirut during Lebanese Civil War (1975-1991).

This is what I mean by my family being a "typical Iraqi family." All my Iraqi friends have families like mine. Actually every Iraqi I know has a family like mine.

What does this family fragmentation bring? I visited my sister in England a few years ago after not seeing her for more than 18 years. We felt like two strangers who never knew each other before. My life went a different way than her life. She never experienced the Iraqi war so she couldn't understand some of other family members' actions. If she just experienced Desert Storm in 1991 she would understand more.

My family never got to experience a Christmas or Easter together for many years (sometimes, I think it was my parents fault to have this many kids, but they were doing their Catholic duties like Mel Gibson does). I don't think we will ever experience a holiday as a whole family again.

It's worse when a few of us get to meet at one time. You would easily notice the influence of our current country of citizenship. We simply can't help it. Each of us became a person of his/her new country.

One thing I learned since I left my native country was to be less emotional. Australia helped me with this matter as people there are less emotional than Americans. It may not be wise to become this way, but when you must leave behind lots of memories, friends and family members each time you change countries, then you need to become less emotional. I don't recommend it, and I don't wish it upon anyone, but it helped me a lot.

Still there are many times where I had to cry because I miss a dear friend, my nieces or sweet 8-year-old nephew, who was inspired by the heroic actions of the New York firefighters on 9/11 to dress as a firefighter for the last two Halloweens. Then I stop and go on with my life.

The Iraqis born since 1950 were born into a sad life. As Fayrouz, the Diva (not me), says in her song "Ana sar lazim wada'kum" (I have to say goodbye to you). Each time I hear the song, it brings all the emotions I have to hide about how much I miss my years and friends in Iraq.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Women's Situation In Iraq

MSNBC has published a very good audio/photo essay by Stephanie Sinclair working for Corbis. The essay views the effect of current security situation in Iraq on women's daily life. It's probably wise to have a look at what she came back with, it's worth it.

First, I'm not blaming the Americans for how insecure Iraqi women feel these days. I learned not to blame "The others" which is always easier.

Iraq wasn't always the best secure place for women as some would claim, but there was always prison to put the rapists and stalkers in. Stalking definition in western world is kind of different than its definition in Middle East. So, stalkers could continue to be on the streets with no charges against them. I encountered few stalkers while living in Iraq, but there wasn't much I could do about them. I found living in Jordan for 10 months much safer than living in Iraq for 28 years and don't ask me why because I don't know.

Why is everyone complaining about women's safety in Iraq as if the Americans came up with this problem?. "Blame the others!"

Iraq's old boss wasn't an idiot. He knew his doomsday wasn't that far away. If the mistress who showed up on TV last September was right, then he did know that Bush Jr. would go after him. Has anyone watched that interview?. I guess I believed her at the time, or at least was fun to watch her.

So, knowing his end was coming, does anyone think he was going to let it go that easy? No. That's where the idea or releasing 70,000 murderers, rapists and thieves came from. I always said to my trusted friends and family members that he would burn Baghdad as Nero burned Rome before leaving power. I wish I was wrong at the time.

Salam Pax mentioned once in a post how girls kidnapped and raped in Iraq are suffering the worst from their own families after coming back home. Mostly suffering from honor killing. Well, honor killing is still part of the Middle Eastern society . Trust me, it's not to do with Muslims only, I know it's less effective among Christian families in Middle East but that doesn't mean these families don't take severe action against a raped daughter or sister. Sometimes, honor killing is exercised in cases as simple as falling in love with a person from a different religion.

Is this something the Americans must fix too? I beg the educated and open-minded Iraqis to educate their elders on how important it is to take their raped daughter or sister in their arms and tell her how much they still love her.

My husband has been teaching me self-defense since I moved to America even though we live in one of the best parts of town, but he doesn't want to give this matter a chance. Actually, I'm becoming so good and kind of proud of myself.

It's funny, the other day I told him since the weather is nice I may start walking (call it exercising) to my favorite coffee shop in our area. I looked at the main street to make sure there's a sidewalk all the way to the coffee shop. I explained to him it wouldn't be easy for anyone to harm me on a busy street. He thought that was wise of me. It's not about wise, it's the way me and others learned how to protect ourselves walking the Iraqi streets. Iraqi women don't take it for granted that all roads are safe.

I wish they could run any basic self-defense classes in Iraq, I'm sure many women would sign for them. Just a thought.

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Saturday, November 08, 2003

Nouman H. Subbar

I listened to an interesting interview with Philadelphia police sergeant Nouman H. Subbar on fresh air from npr.org.

I recommend listening to the interview. Nouman was born and raised in Iraq. He fled the country in 1981 and moved to America. He decided to take a leave from work and travel to Iraq to spend 4 months helping with the re-construction of Iraqi police.

He helped in capturing former Interior minister Samir Al-Shekhli. Actually that was a shocker for me since while living in Iraq a rumor circulated once that he got executed by his big boss (you know who) during the nineties.

What I liked most is when the interviewer asked Nouman weather he and others struggled when getting arrested. He said that they told him "We did nothing, why are we getting arrested?" (or something like that, listen to the interview). He replied to them: Tell that to the people in the mass graves.

I would've actually told former interior minister :Tell that to the students of university of Basrah while you were minister of Higher Education.

I studied at University of Basrah between 1984-1988. Samir became minister of Higher Education during that time (for our bad luck of course). My campus (School of Science) was on the worst location that you would ever wish for yourself Not that far from the "REAL" war zone. He INSISTED we HAVE to keep going to college whatever the situation is, even though we could've moved and shared buildings with another college in a campus far from the war zone (not really, but sort of a safer location).

That lasted till bombing between Iranian and Iraqi troops was just few miles from the campus, and the campus itself got bombed few times before we moved permanently to the "safer campus". But that was after war situation in Basrah got really bad (light version of "Shock and awe"), even our parents left the city and moved to other parts of the country. It became city of ghosts after Spring 1987 when only people you could see in town were students of University of Basrah and Iraqi soldiers.

I still don't know how we made it to college everyday to finish our degrees. We kept joking the war would finish after graduation. Yes, it did just two months after the graduation ceremony. That's how lucky we were if you could call this "luck".

"We did nothing"..Oh, yeah..

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