Friday, October 14, 2005

Interviewing Treasure of Baghdad

UPDATE I - 9:50PM
Since I can't physically vote. I cast my imaginary vote on my blog. I vote "YES" because Iraq needs to move forward. It's easy enough for everyone to understand why I voted "YES."


ORIGINAL POST
Ghaith Abdul wrote in his latest article, which I quoted in my previous post:

A mixture of guilt, responsibility and ambition keeps driving Iraqi journalists to push the limits a bit further every time. The intoxication you get from reporting the truths after so many decades of lies is indescribable. You feel you can tell the world what is really happening, but you also feel that you are safe because of the way you look, because of your scruffy beard or your moustache. But far from being immune, the Iraqis are the ones getting killed.

Today, I bring to you an interview with an Iraqi/International journalist . He's known to you as Iraqi blogger, Treasure of Baghdad. I hope you enjoy it.

  • Q: What made you decide to become a journalist?

    A: Since I was a child I used to participate in school activities of writing articles and stories. In 1993, I established my own newspaper in my high school, Baghdad College, but it was forbidden by the schoolmaster as he was afraid of Saddam discovering there are students writing articles and expressing their opinions freely. Since then, I stopped writing but kept on reading newspapers in English and Arabic. Until, I worked as a translator first with a newspaper in 2003, after I got my B.A. in English Literature. This made me improve my English and start writing and reporting.


  • Q: What are the dangers associated with working in Iraq for a foreign newspaper or news agency?

    A: In Iraq, it's very dangerous to work as a reporter but at the same time it is not impossible. For an Iraqi reporter working with a western newspaper or agency is very dangerous. Until now, no one in my neighborhood and some of my relatives know that I am reporter. If any stranger or insurgent discovers that, the reporter will be considered a "Spy" and he might be subjected to death as what happened to many Iraqi journalists working with western media.


  • Q: Do Iraqi journalists have better/worse access to locations and politicians after the collapse of Saddam's regime?

    A: Iraqi journalists do have better access to politicians. This is the good part of the new Iraq, although there are some politicians who prefer to speak to a "western reporter" rather than an "Iraqi reporter" although they work in the same media agency.


  • Q: What do people think of the draft constitution?

    A: Oh! This needs an interview by itself. But in general, as far as I saw is that most of the people are going to vote and the majority supports it except in some of the Sunni areas in Iraq like Anbar province, where the people think they lost power.


  • Q: Do you think Sunnis will participate in the next elections?

    A: Yes, they will. The Sunnis I interviewed until today were eager to participate. I was in Adhamiya, the major Sunni area in the capital, and the majority supported the draft despite the threats they received in the area.


  • Q: As part of your job, you cover the aftermath of car and suicide bombing in Baghdad. How are the conditions in Iraqi hospitals? Is there enough staff, medicine, beds and equipment to handle these incidents?

    A: This is an important question. If you go to a hospital full of people wounded by explosions, you would see how the conditions are terrible there. Doctors do their best to help the wounded, nurses run here and there cleaners clean the rooms and the corridors form the stream of blood that is ground there almost everyday. The humanitarian organizations and the health ministry are doing their best to provide as much equipments as possible. Sometimes they became unable to satisfy the needs of some hospitals, specially in the hot areas like Ramadi, Qaem and so on.


  • Q: Do you think the Iraqi police and army are ready to establish security in Iraq within the next 12 months?

    A: Until now, the Iraqi security forces are unable to establish security in the country. I don't think they will be able to do that within the next 12 months as they need more days of training. Until now, Iraqis feel that the security forces are weak.


  • Q: What does the future hold for Iraq and Iraqis?

    A: In my own point of view, if Iraq is able to get rid of the terrorist groups, it would be one of the most developed and prosperous countries and would restore its glory. But if not, it would be a new Afghanistan under Taliban.


  • Q: Do you think Iraqis can set their differences aside and work together to build their country?

    A: If the politicians and the foreign insurgents stop what they are doing, I think Iraqis will be unified again and build their country hand in hand.


  • Q: What do Iraqis need the most these days?

    A: Security, electricity, water, and awareness. But security is the main thing they need.


  • Q: What's the best thing about having internet access and being able to blog in Iraq?

    A: The best thing is that it makes the blogger to read and see how people of other countries write, express and think. Under Saddam, Iraqis were restricted to 3 TV channels and that's it. They had 6 governmental newspapers and that's it. But now, Iraq is open to the world. The Iraqis are able now to educate themselves through surfing in the net.


  • Q: Are Iraqis with internet access aware of the existence of the Iraqi blogs?

    A: Most Iraqis do not know what does a blog mean and what is the benefit from it. But the number of the Iraqi bloggers is increasing amazingly. I think within a year or two, there would be many bloggers on the sphere.


  • Q: How easy/hard is it for single people to date in Baghdad these days?

    A: It is very hard to date these days in Iraq. At night, most of the restaurants and amusement places are closed. If someone wants to go to a restaurant, he/she has to look at the watch every hour till they leave worried how to arrive home.


  • Q: Would like to visit the United States in the future? If yes, who would you like to meet? Why?

    A: I am going to visit the States very soon. I would like to see my Americans friends who taught me what journalism means and how to love this job.


  • Q: What would you like to tell people who read this interview about Iraq and Iraqis? [Something that makes you proud of being an Iraqi]

    A: Despite what happened and still happening, there is a glimpse of hope at the end of the dark tunnel. Iraqis are still brave, patient and able to do the impossible despite all the difficulties and the hard time they are going through.


Treasure of Baghdad, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you. I wish you and Iraq the best in years to come.

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