Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sisters In War, The Book

With the Iraq War fading from the American peoples' memory, Christina Asquith's book "Sisters In War" didn't get much attention compared to books published earlier during this war.

Since 2003, I've read a number of books about the war in Iraq. Most of those books reflected the author's position on the war in Iraq - no matter how much the author tried to stay neutral. I couldn't tell one way or the other with Christina Asquith's book because it reflected the position of the four women whose stories she covered in the book.

My favorite woman in the book is Manal Omar, a Palestinian-American who opposed the Iraq war. But, she accepted an offer from Women to Women International, and she went to Baghdad in 2003 to help Iraqi women in many good ways. She's an example of how someone can oppose a war, but still help rebuild the lives of people traumatized by war and disorder.

The book focused on the Iraqi women as well as their dreams and struggles in a world that has changed so much. Since 2003, a simple walk on the street requires some good survival skills.

The book is a page turner. I hope you get to read it, enjoy it and learn something new about Iraq.

Sisters in War

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Haitian People Today

If you haven't heard of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday, then you need to move to another planet.

If you have heard of the earthquake and haven't helped yet in any simple way, then you must do so before you go to bed tonight.

Don't wait until tomorrow or next week. The Haitian people need your help today.

New York Times blog, The Lede, did the homework for you. Donate to your favorite relief agency and have a wonderful night.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq

I don't usually buy books based on blogs. Why buy the book when you could read the blog for free? But, this is HNK's blog turned into a book. She's the exception.

I finished reading the book this morning. I'm happy HNK got her blog published. But, I'm also sad to re-read her struggle with life under fire. No matter the darkness around, HNK always finds something to get her going every day. This optimism is what makes the book a wonderful read.

In an interview with a group of American students, HNK was asked what her wonderland would be like. Her answer was simple, "In my wonderland we would have electricity and clear water."

Do you see how the Iraqi wonderland is way different that ours?

Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq

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Monday, April 20, 2009

R.I.P. Dr. Sabah Abdel Aziz

Facebook has become my favorite tool to connect with old friends and family members, who are scattered around the world. It brings many happy moments to my busy life. From time to time, it brings bad news.

Last week, I learned of the death of Dr. Sabah Abdel Aziz in Basra.

For readers of this post, the name means nothing. For his students, he meant the world.

Dr. Aziz was the head of the Computer Science department at University of Basra, where I completed my university studies, during the 1980s. He earned a doctorate in Satellite Technology from Japan. As you can imagine, he was a genius, and we were the wannabe programmers who had to share computers to finish our homework and assignments.

I caught Dr. Aziz's attention with my problem-solving techniques from the first year. From the beginning, I was expected to perform perfectly in my studies. This wasn't always easy considering Basrawi students lived in a war zone. But I tried my best.

Dr. Aziz was a professor with a vision. His vision was to graduate students who make it successfully in the workplace. His success is evident in my colleagues who became successful techies no matter which country they eventually landed.

I owe my success to Dr. Aziz and all the wonderful professors who taught me at University of Basra. They were available when we needed them. They were tough when toughness was needed. It's what made us better programmers.

Before leaving church yesterday, I prayed to Mother Mary. I asked her to tell Dr. Aziz that we loved him, and he will be missed on Earth.

R.I.P. Dr. Sabah Abdel Aziz.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Iraqi Women, Then and Now

Iraqi diva Ififa Iskandar performing a concert during the 1950s.

In many parts of the world, women have gained more rights over the years. In Iraq, the situation has been reversed.

During the reign of the Iraqi Royal family, Iraqi women were more liberal than their peers in many neighboring countries. The picture above is a reminder of the good old times in Iraq.

There's a myth, which was circulated over the Internet and by some journalists, that the Baathists liberated the Iraqi women. The Iraqi women were already free. Truthfully, the Baathists were secular folks. When they came to power, they didn't stop women from pursuing education and careers.

When I attended university during the 1980s, probably one or two female students wore hijabs on the entire campus. The same held true on Iraqi streets. This wasn't true by the time I left Iraq in 1994.

For the record, I respect women who choose to wear the hijab freely. But, it infuriates me to see pictures of veiled Iraqi women AND know that fear of religious thugs forced them to wear the hijab.

After the removal of Saddam in 2003 and the installation of a bunch of religious fundamentalists as the face of the Iraqi government, Iraqi women started to lose their rights at the speed of light. Nothing has prepared the liberal Iraqi women for the bleak future enforced by a constitution that doesn't separate the state from religion.

Sudarsan Raghavan of The Washington Post reports the following grim news from today's Iraq:

In the first six months of this year, 206 women were killed in Kurdistan, 150 of them burned to death. The killings were up 30 percent from the previous six months, according to the Kurdish regional government's Human Rights Ministry. Activists say many honor crimes go unreported or are portrayed as accidents. They also say that some women have immolated themselves out of despair.
Last year, Saud [An Iraqi women rights activist] also visited morgues to tabulate the number of women killed in Basra for a report to Iraq's parliament. She found 150 victims. She said she had known three of them: Maysoon was killed with her brother, both shot five times in the head for being Christians; gunmen killed Lubna for walking a little too close to her fiance; Sabah was murdered in a market for not wearing a head scarf.

Honor killings are a problem in Basra, too, but Saud understands her boundaries. "I'll get killed if I try to protect a woman from her tribe," she said.

This is the liberation Iraqi women were given by the Bush administration. This is the legacy he's leaving behind: This administration turned secular Iraq into another fundamentalist Iran of the 1980s.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Pursuit of Happiness

This is a special gift from my co-workers for becoming a U.S. citizen.
One of the notes read, "Fay. Congratulations on making it official that this is your home..."

Last month, I went for my long-awaited U.S. citizenship interview. After the interview finished, the immigration officer asked me if I wanted to attend the Oath Ceremony. She said it would take place in few hours at the same place. I couldn't believe my luck. I know most people wait weeks or months until their Oath Ceremonies.

That's when my pursuit of happiness started.

At the ceremony, I recognized immigrants from different continents and countries who were there to become part of the American melting pot.

The presenter told us that the U.S. Constitution doesn't guarantee us happiness. She said the U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to pursue happiness.

When I started this blog, I was still working on my green card application. At last, I feel I'm home. Life couldn't be better these days.