Saturday, August 28, 2004

Riot Is Worse Than Murder

Alaa published an open letter to the peaceful Iraqi people in Arabic. Here's the translation of his letter in English. His words are wonderful as usual.

Riot is stronger than murder

In the name of Allah the Merciful.

They came and toppled Saddam and his regime. Unfortunately, Saddamism is still here. Saddamism didn't go away with the departure of Saddam. This disease is more cursed and more evil than its comrade and can't be removed with the same simplicity. This chronic disease still lives in the sick souls. The subject isn't connected to what appears on the surface of matters regarding its complexity, variety of reasons and causes. The problem doesn't exist only with the presence of the Western troops, the reality of sectarian and racial conflicts, poverty, lack of knowledge, crime, greediness or a lot of other parameters, even though we admit their importance, direct and indirect relation to the painful reality in Mesopotamia today.

Yes, we're still fighting the Saddamist mentality and in spirit. This fight is at its highest strength today.

This mentality is not limited to Saddam or whoever was with him. Rather, it could dominate many people - even his enemies - and those who wished for his removal. It could nest under a turban, hide under a jubbah or under any frontage or appearance. Saddamism is the belief that society has to be built on the principle that fear, violence, murder and terror are the only successful style of government. Ruling means domination, restraint and supremacy of the minority to control the country's abilities; and it's only the right of the ruling minority to enjoy the fortune; and the country has to be a "big village" for the ruler and whoever he's satisfied with, denomination, tribe, etc. "Distrust is cleverness" and "the others" has to be looked at them with hatred. Whoever disagrees with his opinion are the enemies, who must be crashed and killed. "The ends justifies the means;" and there are no limits for torture, aggression or red lines for this matter. Torture is justified and killing of innocent souls is an easy matter. Also, fighting people by the use of humanitarian emotions like targeting family and relatives by passing a legislation opposed to "Don't punish an innocent for someone else's crime."

Now, we see bombings on the streets, kidnapping, beheading, threatening and terrorizing people for what they say or think. So what has changed in the situation? Terror was practiced by a ruling dictatorship. Now, it's practiced by organized gangs, who have different views and shiny slogans. Even by using the name of jihad, conquering the occupiers and different false names. There are people, who drum and sing for this and that. There are those who finance them from the inside and outside. Maybe this terror is worse than its predecessor. The old authority was obvious for everyone. But now, they're hiding like snakes and scorpions, who bite then go back to their holes waiting for another chance to attack the peaceful people.

To cut it short, this Saddamist mentality is built on the basic belief in wickedness and its real god is Satan. It's a satanic religion. Evil deception is weak and the effect is for the Merciful worshippers, believers in good and love and God worshippers who believe in a Merciful God.

So, to the patient Iraqis: rejoice for morning is your appointed time. Can't you see the morning light coming soon?

Peace is upon you with God's mercy and blessing.

Your brother, Alaa

I hope the translation is easy to understand. Oh well, no Arabic word for this post. I did my homework today.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Iraq vs. Italy Game

The Iraqi soccer team's performance was really good during the whole game. The team missed many opportunities to score during the game. But, that's how it goes with soccer.

Congratulations to the handsome Italian team for winning the bronze. It goes well with their perfect tan. Honestly, both teams played very nice.

Grant Wahl, the Sports Illustrated reporter, who wrote the controversial report last week, wrote another report defending his first report. I have no problem with Grant trying to defend himself. My problem is why he interviewed the players he knew very well weren't pleased with America for personal reasons.

In my opinion, he went and interviewed those players with an agenda in his mind. If not, then why didn't he interview the Afghani or Iraqi female athletes, who were happy to be in Athens?

This is probably my last Olympics-related post. I really enjoyed the games, and I'm looking forward to Olympics 2008. But before I go, I'd like you to know that Nabil, our sports correspondent from Baghdad, has announced on his blog that he and his friends are trying to rebuild his school's soccer team:
Me and my school friends are trying to rebuilt our school team to play in the schools football league, we are trying to get money to buy the balls and buy nets for the school's goals, and we are trying to buy [uniforms] for the team, so if you can help us we will be very thankful. Because a lot of players from my team want to play in this competition because the best players in the competition will have the chance to go to the coach of the Iraqi youth football team, and maybe they will be in the Iraqi youth team, so if you can help we will be thankful.

Hopefully, someone can help him and his friends with this project.

Arabic Word of The Post:

soccer or football: كرة القدم - / kura-til-'qadam /

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Iraqi Airways Makes a Test Flight

A newly purchased Boeing 737, which belongs to Iraqi Airways made a test flight from Amman to Baghdad last Monday. After the United Nations sanctions in 1990, all Iraqi airplanes were grounded. Six of them are at Amman International Airport. You can't miss them if you fly through that airport.

AFP reports:
On the eve of the invasion of Kuwait, the company paid European giant Airbus 10 million dollars for four planes, shipments that never arrived when sanctions stalled the deal.

Iraq's former interim transport minister, Benham Polis, said in May that the company had $300 million to lease or buy aircraft from Airbus and Boeing.

Jordanian Transport Minister Raed Abu Saud said in February that the Iraqi planes parked at Queen Alia Airport were considered part of millions of dollars of Iraqi assets frozen in Jordan.

He said Jordan should get around 4 million dollars in fees from Iraq for keeping the planes.

The last two paragraphs can easily boil any Iraqi's blood. Why? Because Half of Jordan’s crude oil needs, worth $300 million, were delivered free of charge as a gift from Saddam. The gift was part of an agreement renewed yearly.

How nice of the Jordanians! Oh, I forgot. The Jordanian Royal family is hosting Saddam's two daughters and their children. It must cost a lot. Who better to pay their expenses than the Iraqi people.

Arabic Word of The Post:

airplane: طائرة - / 'TA-eera /
airplanes: طائرات - / 'TA-eerat /

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Bronze Will Be Good

By now, most of you know the Iraqi soccer team lost its chance to win the gold medal. Bronze is good. It's a nice color.

I watched the first half of today's game. I couldn't watch the second half. The Iraqi players' faces looked sad and frustrated. Iraqi fans stopped chanting after Paraguay's first goal. I got more depressed. So, I stopped watching. Remember, Brazil didn't qualify for the Olympics because of Paraguay.

Italy and Iraq will be playing for the bronze medal on Friday. I hope the Iraqi soccer team does better during this game.

Arabic Word of The Post:

chance - فرصة - / fur-'Sa /
chances - فرص - / forus /

Diary From Baghdad

I hope you check the Iraq Blog Count regularly. It's the place were a number of Iraqi bloggers have been posting links to the new Iraqi blogs. The number of Iraqi blogs has reached 72. We're not too far from blog number 100. Keep Counting.

The latest blog is Diary from Baghdad written by a 27-year-old Iraqi female. She's a civil engineer and lives in Baghdad. She's married and has a 3-year-old daughter. I hope you enjoy reading her posts.

Off topic. Yesterday, I watched "Troy" in the movie theater. If there's anything called "men-flick," this is the one. I couldn't help but think during the movie, "This movie is missing Ben Affleck and George Clooney." Seriously, was this a movie about historical events or about Brad Pitt's beauty?

Arabic Word of The Post:

diary: يوميات - / yo-'miyat /

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Iraqi Soccer Team Wins Another Game

The Iraqi soccer team did it again. It won its game with Australia. The team has qualified to the semi-finals for the first time in its Olympic history. That's more than anyone expected from this team that came out shining after years of torture under Uday's management.

Are you still angry with the players comments? Please don't be. Keep giving the players your positive energy. I really believe it's the people cheering for them around the world that is giving the players part of their energy to play and win.

And for my country, Australia, Ian Thorpe is our gem. I think we can live with one less medal.

My family-in-law were making fun of me the other day because I cheer for three winning countries: Australia, America and Iraq. How lucky am I?

Arabic Word of The Post :

Iraq: عراق
Australia: أستراليا
America: أمريكا

The names are pronounced almost the same in English and Arabic. So, I wouldn't include my funny Arabic pronunciation.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Ma'rwa Ahteemi Is Back In Iraq

Source: Jorrdan Times

I hope you still remember Ma’rwa Ahteemi. The Iraqi girl who suffered a spinal injury in November 2003. Her injury was the result of an artillery shell that exploded on the edge of her family’s farm outside Baghdad. She was brought to America for treatment with the help of two American soldiers.

For the readers who contributed to her fund, you may like to know, more than $10,000 has been raised for her. Also, The National Rehabilitation Hospital donated a year’s supply of medicines and supplies (worth $8,000) and ordered a special wheelchair for Ma'rwa with thick wheels, suitable for sand.

Associated Press journalist, Sharon Cohen, followed Ma'rwa's story. In a newly published report, Sharon wrote of Ma'rwa's injury, treatment, rehabilitation and journey back to Iraq.

Sharon wrote in her report about Ma'rwa's rehabilitation progress:
By April, she could dismantle her wheelchair — with her own comical flair. She’d sigh in exhaustion and cross her eyes as she tugged at the seat cushion with cherry-red fingernails and squeezed the back until it folded like an accordion.

In three months, Ma’rwa gained 15 pounds, strength and confidence.

By May, she had taken her first steps in thigh-to-ankle braces that she'll use mostly for indoors.

"She’s very motivated, very practical, a very creative thinker," says Dr. Sally Evans, who supervised her care.

Ma'rwa made lots of friends during her short stay in America. Please, pray for her safety in years to come.

Again, thank you to everyone who contributed to her fund or sent her gifts and toys. I'm sure you made a difference in her life. Please remember, you are a star thrower.

Arabic Word of The Post :

year : سنة - / sen'a /
month : شهر - / shaher /
day -- published before : يوم - / yowm /

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

And Another Win To Iraqi Soccer Team

What can I say? Iraq beat Costa Rica 2-0. It was one of the coolest soccer games I've watched in a long time. For more details, check our sports correspondent in Baghdad.

The Iraqi soccer team is back to its old glory.

Arabic Word of The Post:

win : فوز - / fowz /

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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Opening Ceremony For Olympics 2004

Yesterday, I watched the opening ceremony for Olympics 2004. I think the Greeks put on a great show. I love their history and mythologies. The country is so beautiful and full of the Olympics games' history that I kept thinking to myself, "Greece should always be the host of the Olympic games."

It was wonderful to hear everyone cheering for the Iraqi Olympic team when they entered the stadium. That was the best part of the opening ceremony. The Iraqi team looked happier than ever. They're probably the miracle team this year. Ala'a Hikmat looked gorgeous dressed as Queen Ishtar, who was considered the goddess of fertility, love and war in Kingdom of Babylon.

Then came the Iranian team. The stadium went almost quiet. I heard their judo player is considering withdrawing from his match against the Israeli judo player. Seems like Iran doesn't recognize Israel as a country. Good. The Israeli player will have an extra time to practice for his next match.

Many thanks to Japan who provided the Iraqi Olympic team with the green suits, pants, shirts, ties and shoes.

A BIG THANKS to Bernd Stange, the Iraqi soccer coach from Germany, who traveled to Baghdad after the collapse of the old regime and went door to door to regroup the Iraqi soccer team and encourage them to play again. He's the star.

Looking at these players from all over the world standing by each other in peace and harmony, I couldn't help but wish world politics would be as smooth as the Olympic games. It's a wishful thought.

I wish the best for everyone competing in the games. Let the games begin.

Arabic Word of The Post :

queen : ملكة - / melika /
queens : ملكات - / melikat /

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Congratulations To The Iraqi Soccer Team

I don't think there's happier than this news today. The Iraqi soccer team beat Portugal 4-2 during their first game in Athens.

Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad said:
This victory will be received with happiness by my people, who have suffered through much

Yes Adnan, the whole world received this victory with happiness. Well done Iraqis.


Arabic Word of The Post:

Our congratulations : تهانينا - / teha-neena /

Iraqi Women And Travel Rights

Ays reported the following disturbing news last week:
Iraqi girls or women (between 1 and 40 year) must come with their father, husband or uncle to get the new passport!
This is a new decree..
I don't know why..And the official who said that on ALIraqiya did not mention why..!
Iraqi women are so upset because of that..
I think that there must be no differences between man and woman in the new Iraq..right?
Do you have a similar thing there?

After his post, I received e-mails from readers, who asked me to write about this subject. So, I will.

Until late 1991, Iraqi women were free to travel overseas by themselves with no restrictions. Then, Saddam and his government decided to treat women as second-class citizens and deny them the rights they held for many years. Under the new rule, a woman needed to be accompanied by a male relative, which includes a father, brother, son, uncle or a husband. If she didn't have any of those relatives, she couldn't leave the country. Due to years of war with our neighbors, which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, many women were trapped in this group.

When I left Iraq to Jordan in 1994, my dad traveled with me to Jordan. He had to pay the travel fee just to stand next to me at the Iraqi borders and say, "Hey, this is me. I'm protecting my daughter from the hands of every Evil in Jordan." He stayed with me in Jordan for few days and went back to Baghdad. I'm surprised they didn't ask him, "Where's your second-class daughter?"

After the collapse of Saddam's regime last year, this restriction was lifted and women were free to travel without a male companion. All was good until the new government instated the new restrictions.

Anyway, I'll try to end this post with a happy note from two Iraqi women, who are touring America to say, "Thank You America." Something you don't hear much these days. I hope you enjoy reading the report.

Arabic Word of The Post :

travel - noun : سفر - / sefer /

Monday, August 09, 2004

Iraqi Ambassadors To Athens 2004 - Update I

Two weeks ago I wrote about the Iraqi Olympic team heading to Athens. I raised the issue of Ala'a Hikmat, the sole Iraqi female Olympic athlete, who had no proper training or gear like her male peers. The post got lots of attention as it should. Thanks to the bloggers who have linked to this story and helped spread the word.

Today, I received an e-mail from a regular reader of this blog, Michael Jinks, from South Carolina. Michael sent the following e-mail to Russell Athletics company asking for help:

I refer you to the following Boston Globe story of the inequality and injustices (disgrace) heaped upon the lone female Iraqi Olympic member, Ala'a Hikmat, and her significant trials and tribulations as well as her inner strength and character. Anything that Russell Athletic, Inc. could do would surely of importance. She has no shoes, training clothes or team uniform.

Today the company sent him back the following e-mail:
[Russell Athletics] didn't want you to think we had ignored your message. We have been trying to come up with a way to get some product to her before the Games. We are now working with some contacts our Moving Comfort division has with people who will be in Athens and might be able to get some of their performance products to her.

I'll let you know if we are able to get anything to her. Our Moving Comfort folks are using their connections and it will be their product that we want to send -- since that's the product we have that was designed by women for women, particularly women runners.

Ala'a will be competing in the 100-meter and 200-meter races. Let's keep our fingers crossed in hope that Ala'a gets some of the Moving Comfort products and does well in the Olympics.

I can say one thing at the end of this post, "My readers ROCK." They never disappointed me when I asked for their help. And that's what blogging is for me, raising issues and trying to find help for people who need it the most.

We can't change everything for the best in Iraq in one day. We can work on one person or one problem at a time. It works well this way. It's the only way to win the peace.

Before I leave, I want to share these words from Michael with you :
Sir Winston Churchill gave a very, very famous five word speech to the graduating class of Harvard University. He arose and stood and waited and waited until the applause stopped and there was utter silence. Then he spoke :"NEVER!..., NEVER!..., NEVER!...GIVE UP!" and then he sat down—finished!

Arabic Word of The Post :

week : أسبوع - / isbooa /
two weeks : أسبوعان - / isboo-aan /
weeks : أسابيع - / asa-beea /

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Saving Private Hammer

I thought to start the week with a charming post. Hope you enjoy it.

Pfc. Hammer is an Iraqi Tabby cat. It was adopted as a kitten by 3rd Brigade Combat Team while serving in Balad, Iraq. When the unit found out they were coming back home, Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield contacted Alley Cat Allies and asked for help bringing Hammer along. Alley Cat Allies raised $2,500 for Hammer's shots, sterilization, paperwork and a plane ride to the United States.

Bousfield said in the Associated Press report:
"He has been through mortar attacks. He'd jump and get scared liked the rest of us. He is kind of like one of our own. He was a stress therapist. The guys would come back in tired and stressed. Hammer would come back and bug the heck out of you. He wiped away some worries."

The kitten earned his rank after nabbing five mice. Yes, Iraqi cats are excellent mice hunters.

IRAQI Word of The Post :

cat : بزونة - / baz-zoona /
cats: بزازين - / baza-zeen /

Arabic Word of The Post :

cat : هرة - / hir-ra /
cats : هرات - / hir-rat /

Friday, August 06, 2004

Back To School Campaign

Najma is promoting a campaign to help Iraqi kids. Her program is another way to help Iraqi students, who are going back to school before the end of September.

Then there's Books for Baghdad campaign. We all have books sitting on our bookshelves that we could donate to this project. The books are sent to Iraq to U.S. troops. The website has information on how to send books to Iraqi universities and schools.

And if you still want more. Here's another way to help our troops and Iraqi people in Al-Najaf.

I sometimes think my blog is very expensive because I keep asking people to send this and that at least once a month. But, Iraqi people and our troops need our support. That's why I keep writing these posts. I hope they don't bore you.

Arabic Word of The Post :

book : كتاب - / ki-tab /
books : كتب - / koo-toob /

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Iraq Is One Nation Under Food

Since the churches were bombed on Sunday, everyone has witnessed lots of solidarity among the Iraqi people. There's good words and good acts. But, above all there's good Iraqi food.

On Sunday evening, I decided to be around Iraqi people. My husband took me to the newly discovered Iraqi-Kurdish restaurant in Richardson, a nice suburb of Dallas. Everyone should go to this place to see the harmony among the Iraqi people while eating the best kebob, rice, green beans stew, Iraqi bread, rice pudding and other popular Iraqi food. There were Kurdish, shia and Christian families sitting around eating in happiness. I told my husband, "This is the Iraq I grew up in."

So, if you're from the DFW area, try to take your family to "Mediterranean Cafe & Bakery." It's located in the Heights Shopping Center at 100 S. Central Expressway in Richardson. This is the place where you can experience good Iraqi food and music. I recommend you try their daily all-you-can-eat buffet, which is not mentioned in the review. Here are their buffet hours:

Lunch   ($7.50 without drink): 10:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Daily
Dinner ($8.50 without drink): 5 to 9 p.m. Sun-Thur and 5 to 10 p.m. Fri-Sat

The place is managed by an Iraqi-Kurd from Dehuk. He left Iraq in 1988 and moved to America after staying in Turkey for three years.

Dilnareen, I know you're reading this and we already talked about it. But, I haven't told you that we have a big Kurdish community in Dallas.

Also, I received an e-mail from Firas's cousin this morning. Everyone is ok in the family. His cousin asked me to keep praying for them. Whatever your religion, please pray for the safety of all peaceful Iraqis.

Arabic Word of The Post:

restaurant : مطعم - / maT-eM /
restaurants: مطاعم - / ma-TA-im /

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Chief Wiggles Needs Everyone's Help

Atlas Lines, which ships Operation Give containers to Iraq is playing a dirty game with Chief Wiggles. Here's part of his plea for help post:

Not long ago, I wrote a post asking for your help with a problem with the shipping company, Atlas Line, that we have used to ship all of the donated items to Iraq. The response was wonderful! Many of you called Atlas Line, others wrote email and one person even visited them for us. We thought the problem was solved. We were wrong.

In simple terms, Atlas Line has $30,000 that belongs to Operation Give and we want it back! At the end of this post, I’ll go into a bit more detail for those wanting to understand the situation more fully. For now, here are the simple facts.

(UPDATE: Timeline of events is now added at the end of the post.)

(UPDATE II: Images of cancelled checks now available)

(UPDATE III: More information here.)

The Chief has more details on his post. So, GO HELP CHIEF WIGGLES.

Thank you Cynthia for your e-mail regarding this matter.

I worked for the information technology of an internatioal freight forwarding company before. I can assure you the accounting department knows where every cent goes in these companies. People will be fired if one cent is missing.

Arabic Word of The Post:

company : شركة - / shery-ka /
companies : شركات - / shery-kat /

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Is There Hope Left For The Iraqi Christians ?

Less than two weeks ago, I wrote about the mounting fears among the Christian minority in Iraq. Some people criticized me for being negative about the dark future awaiting the Iraqi Christian minority. They thought living in America doesn't make me realize what is waiting for these people in the new Iraq.

Today, my fears came true. You don't have to be a wizard to see this one coming. I have many relatives and friends who still live in Iraq. Every time we talk to them, they tell us of their fears and misery. So, no I didn't come up with my previous post from illusions in my head. It did happen this time. It will happen again. Not many people want to listen whether Iraqis or non-Iraqis. What happened today made me so angry that I want to vomit.

Today, I won't end my post with Arabic word of the post. Today, I end it with an antiphon to the dead:

May the angles lead you into paradise,
May the martyrs receive you at your coming
And bring you into the holy city, Jerusalem.
May a choir of angels welcome you;
And there, where Lazarus is poor no longer,
May you have eternal rest.

For Iraqi reactions to yesterday's bombing, check here.
For photos from yesterday's bombing, look here.

Thank you Ferid for the links.

Saddam Has a Prostate Infection

The Associated Press reported a few days ago that Saddam has a prostate infection. The report states:
Seven months after being taken prisoner, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein suffers from a chronic prostate infection but has rebuffed suggestions that a biopsy be performed to rule out cancer, Iraq's human rights minister said Thursday.

Tests show that, despite the prostate problem, the 67-year-old deposed dictator is otherwise in good health and has even shed some extra weight while in U.S. detention, Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin told Al-Jazeera television.

He said X-ray and blood tests came back negative for cancer, but officials wanted to take a biopsy to be safe.

I hope he gets well soon so we could witness his trial. I really don't want to miss that one.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Arabic Word of The Post:

cancer : سرطان - / sara-'Tan /
blood : دم - / dem /