Blog Changes and Other Thoughts
UPDATE 03/23/2004 12:10 PM
I sent my friend in Basra an e-mail to thank her for the information she has provided about the incident. Here's her reply:
You're the one to thank for showing such an interest in Basrah's affairs and wellbeing. It thrills my heart to know there is someone who cares about Basrah. You know it's always been Baghdad.
There are more incidents going on inside the Engineering college. The students are still on strike. They won't go to college until everything is as they want. But yesterday some of them went to the college to see if they can go on or what to do.
The dean of the college held a meeting with the students and talked them into coming back to the college. So, one of the students stood up and talked to the Dean about what happened. He said, "It might be we can take some beatings because we are males. But the girls with us, who are almost like our own sisters, how could they do something like that to them?"
Then, there were two students that appeared to be from the Sadr Office. They stood up and beat the boy very hard. So, the boy called his tribemen and they came to college with their weapons and tried to get inside the college. But, the national guards prevented them and there was some shooting; but nobody was heart. And they're still going on with their strike. I think it won't stop without a good fight this time.
The first paragraph of her letter made me really sad. I'll see if I can get her to send us weekly or biweekly reports from Basra.
UPDATE 03/22/2004 22:10 PM
The new Iraqi blogger, who writes beautiful poems on her blog, suggested the name "The Revolution of Open Minds" for the students revolution in Basra. I like this name too. Please, welcome her into the blogsphere with an open mind and heart.
UPDATE 03/22/2004 18:12 PM
Me and Mister Ghost are trying to find a name for the students revolution in Basra. I like his suggestion of "The Books Revolution." Any suggestions?
UPDATE 03/22/2004 12:49 PM
First, I'd like Zeyad to know that I respect his work very much. Zeyad insists there was a Christian girl killed during the incident at the picnic. The girl's death wasn't reported on any Iraqi media even the anti-Sadr ones. It was even denied by the Head of University of Basra, who is supportive of the students. One British report mentioned that the girl committed suicide. That made me more suspicious. So, I've been working with my source in Basra to clarify things for us. I just wish she'd start blogging. But, that's a different story. Here's her latest e-mail:
the latest news about this tragedy is that the Christian girl whom suppose to lose her eye is healing and she might not lose her sight. The students are not cooling down. They demand that all the parties should get out of all universities in Basrah and they meant it. AND THEY'VE GOT WHAT THEY WANTED. Isn't that great?
now all the parties that Zeyad mentioned it his post are getting out of the university and no one will protect them [the students] except the national guards and the Iraqi police.
Further more. All the Islamic parties that are mixing religion with politics are losing their reputation in a bad way. Somehow, this incident opened a lot of peoples eyes to the reality of those parties and what they really are, especially Al-Sadr and his Mahdy army. The rest are no exception.
That girl that Zeyad mentioned in his post. The one he said that she's been killed. The truth is that she hasn't been killed. They ripped off her shirt, took photos of her and told her they will send the pictures to her parents "to let them see what their daughter is doing " as they said. But, she wasn't killed. Since she is a Muslim girl. Well, I think that she and her parents wish that she would be dead. Not because she is a Muslim or a Christian. But, because she is a Middle Eastern and her reputation is killed.
The important thing is that most students , who are a big slice of our community, are determined to change the situation here, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them to keep this spirit for a long time and to make sure that it won't be put out.
But, there is only one thing that I was wondering about. Why did Zeyad say that the girl who was killed is a Christian while its obvious from her name -- her second name actually -- that she is a Muslim?
BTW, there are CDs in the market now that the Sadr's party have distributed in an attempt to make his points understood. But, it only makes it worse.
UPDATE 03/22/2004 11:32 PM
The Head of University of Basra denied the rumors that a female student was killed during the attacks.
Being originally from Iraq, I can tell you this story will stir more and more. The rumors will end up saying 10 students died during the attack. It's not a joke. It's how things works with rumors in that part of the world. Even worse, some people prefer to believe rumors more than facts.
ORIGINAL POST 03/22/2004
I've changed the name of this blog from "Live From Dallas" to "Iraqi In America." We'll be moving from Dallas in a few weeks. So, I thought I better get accustomed to the new changes in my life. I stopped considering any place in the world my home as I've moved to four cities in different countries during the last 10 years. To stay optimistic in the face of these continuous changes, I call moving to a new city or country "an adventure."
I also added my photo to the sidebar since most of the non-Middle Eastern readers assume I'm a "he" not a "she." The Middle Eastern readers don't need this clarification since everyone knows it's a female name. My dad named me after the Lebanese diva Fayrouz. It's funny when some of my Middle Eastern readers think this is my nickname.
Now to subject of the day. You probably read Zeyad's latest post by now. The girl DID NOT DIE. Here's an e-mail I just received from an Iraqi Christian living in Basra -- via her American pen pal friend:
Yes, the Mahdi Army did beat the students of Engineering college when they went on a picnic. They actually beat everybody there and stolen their mobiles and digital cameras. The girl who was beaten did not die but she lost her one eye because one of them beat her on her head very hard with a thick stick of wood on her head. Yes, she is Christian (Armenian actually) and the boy how died afterwards was affected by his injuries.
Its was a tragedy. The students of all colleges are in what you can say a revolution because of this. They made many demonstrations against Al-Mahdi army and Al-Sadr demanding to remove their offices from the universities and also a group of the students went to Sayid Al-Sistani to make him talk to Al-Sadr and advise him to be sensible in his actions.
There is a lot to be said about this. I will send you another email
I want Iraqis to stop using the Christian card to attack other sectors. I read it on a few blogs lately, and I'm not pleased. Thank you very much everyone. Iraqi Christians suffered for the last two years. We haven't complained much - even on this blog. This is because we consider Iraq ONE PIECE. Iraq doesn't belong to the Kurds, Sunni, Shia, Yezidi or Christians. Iraq belongs to everyone. So, let's stop calling each others names and try to figure out how to live together peacefully.
Many people complain the Shia voted for the United Alliance list because Al-Sistani supported this list. This is an underestimation to the Iraqi Shia voters. The Shia voters had the choice of keeping Allawi, who hasn't been able to improve the security situation in Iraq or vote for his opponents. They chose the latter because they wanted a change in their daily life situation. Isn't this what most Western voters do when they don't like their current government?
Many Iraqi Christians complain they're underrepresented in the new National Assembly. Well, it's time to tell many of you how disappointed I am with those who didn't "want" to vote. We have the biggest Iraqi Christian community in Detroit. Still, the United Alliance list came first. Why? The Iraqi Shia community in Detroit voted while many Iraqi Christians boycotted the election. The same happened in Australia and other countries where we have big communities. We could've easily won more seats if we went and voted or united under one list instead of scattering our vote among different lists. So, don't complain when you're part of the problem.
There's no doubt the situation in Basra has been tough for the Christian minority during the last two years. Still, the Chaldean Archbishop of Basra, Gabriel Kassab, has these words for the outside world:
As an example, the prelate reported that the Church in Basra now runs three kindergartens, where 90% of the pupils are Muslim.
The archbishop added that although some Christian families fled during the insurgency, a number have since returned since the January elections. He estimated that there are now about 1,000 Christian families in his archdiocese.
Archbishop Kessab is in London campaigning to get support for Iraqi people of all religions. He met with the office of Iraqi affairs in the British Foreign Ministry. He visited the Islamic Al-Kho'ee Organization. He also visited The Islamic Union University. When asked about the Christians situation in Iraq, he replied:
Christians suffer in Iraq from the same problems and difficulties that face the rest of Iraqis like security, peace, acts of murder and destruction. These are general worries of all Iraqis.
Read more... [Arabic Source]
The Diocese of Basra also has a pharmacy that distributes free-of-charge medicine to Muslims and Christians. The medicine is donated by international non-profit organizations.
And for Baghdad, it seems like the Christians enjoyed a peaceful Palm Sunday. Churches were packed with parishioners who did not fear for their lives.