Blog Archive

Blog Archive – 2008

"story of a duck and a slipper"-- an end of year tale

December 20, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

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What a wonderful end of term send off Iraqi journalist Muntathar el-Zeidi (petition in support) gave the US president and the world!

This young man achieved the ultimate ridicule, the ultimate insult, the ultimate weapon. The simple shoe, heaved so accurately with its heavy meaning has hit homes across the globe. For those of us from eastern and Arab culture, our humble slipper has deep social significance to a foe. Directed at an adversary, it can be a stronger statement than any deadly weapon.

But what about the presidential duck. Holder of the most powerful office in the world, they say, ducked to miss the beautifully timed and perfectly directed missile. How this weapon forced GW Bush to duck is even more of a victory than if the thing had hit him smack in the face. Imagine, any person of such stature forced to crouch behind a post, like a scared rabbit. He ducked, like any common sniper or scared cowardly, defenseless animal. Regardless, Bush did not evade the attack. It could not have been a more perfect scenario— an internationally covered press conference.

 

The symbolism both of the ‘ducking president’ and the ‘shoe’ has not been lost on anyone, most especially Arab journalists and the public. What a heyday they are enjoying. It is truly an historic occasion, to record in drawing and song, to tell and retell our grandchildren, something to restore pride, to revive hope, to know this giant can be felled.

How poignant that this simple (almost) harmless act can indeed be so redeeming an action for the millions of humiliations, murders, insults, losses and hardships of years of US brutality starting with the embargo in 1990.

 

I recall a colleague in Algeria noting how US leaders were forced to sneak in an out of their occupied lands, despite garrisons of troops, tanks, combat aircraft and ultra super surveillance at their disposal. “Remember how Ms. Rice, Mr. Gates, Mr. Rumsfeld and GW always arrive in Iraq unannounced to visit the troops or review their battlements? They fly into a secured green zone or a US military base, and are out of Iraq within hours.” This, my colleague points out, laughing, in contrast to the Iranian head of state who announces his visit to Iraq two weeks before, flies into Baghdad airport greeted by officials and press, then makes his way by motorcade into the capital.

What is imperial power?

 

[ "story of a duck and a slipper"-- an end of year tale ]

Why I Am Joyful About The Election of Barak Obama

November 05, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

It’s gratifying. It’s thrilling. It’s a redemption of the American public; perhaps they now realize that they themselves do make a difference.

I myself cast my presidential vote for third party candidate Ralph Nader; it was a statement of my support for badly needed party reform here in the US. Even though I am a registered member of the Democratic Party. And my Democratic congressional candidate got my vote at the local level.

          But I felt it was Barak Obama who we needed to lead this nation. The decision had to go his way; American voters, sometimes irresponsible and shockingly naïve, had to grasp the terrifying dangers of an alternative.

          Barak Obama is a real leader. Increasingly over the months as I observed the campaign from a distance—I did not attend campaign rallies but reported on campaigns-- I became increasingly convinced that this man possesses extraordinary qualities, including leadership skills.

          My journalism brought me into contact with people across the country, a broader range of citizens than normal. I also read more widely, on all sides of the political spectrum to inform myself as a reporter. And what I learned, although not always what I wanted to believe (more of that next week) about the new Black leader, told me he had to win--had to win not because the alternative held frightening consequences for the nation and the world. Had to win because citizens were being involved in the civil (election) process, if not the real politic alone, more than I witnessed in 40 years living in the US. Had to win not just because of charm or charisma or profound statements. But had to win because Barak Obama is unarguably a brilliant, skilled, and experienced community organizer. One can see the facts: millions more Americans registered to vote; millions of students and youth, new voters, brought into his campaign; millions of Black Americans, politically very sophisticated but marginalized over the years by racism and other inequalities, motivated. Surely the Obama slogan “Yes we can” which could have been a fatuous, prosaic media bite, held special meaning for them. The statement rings deeper for the Americans of African heritage than for anyone else:--

Yes, we can: “We can alter the course of our history;

“We can realize the dreams of Malcolm X, Fanny Lou Hammer, Martin K King, Rosa Parks, WEB DuBois, Anglea Davis and the millions more who fought, who dreamed, who died.

And “Yes we can lead this nation, as president.

“Yes, we can break though the awful, shameful cycle of racism.

“Yes we can change our leadership.

“Yes, we African Americans can speak and act free of the stereotypes we have been associated with, bringing the highest standards of language, thought, compassion to an issue.

“Yes, White Americans can accept us and chose a great and Black American as their president too.”

So November fourth’s victory, I believe, is a special and powerful one for all African Americans. And thereby for the USA.

Some of us witnessed and noted the rallies for Obama--facts the media chose to play down. Hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters flocked to his campaign gathering in numbers never seen before. Those numbers foretold his certain victory on Tuesday.

          Now to Mr. Obama the campaigner. Through all the debates, and all the rebuttals to malicious attacks re Obama’s relationships with individuals, the African American kept his cool. He responded with facts, and in a dignified yet forceful manner. He defended himself without falling into a cycle of counter attacks. In his debates with campaign opponents, first Hillary Clinton, then John McCain, Barak Obama displayed extraordinary composure, respect, and control. He is grace embodied. He is firm; he is confident.

          In Chicago where Obama has lived for over a decade, his community organizing skills are well known. His professional partnership with an astute wife, Michelle, is legend. These he brought to the national campaign in a masterful way. First, essential to any community mobilization, Obama was optimistic. He believed negative situations could be reversed, that despair could be turned to hope and action. And he transferred this to others. He worked with Americans long marginalized—the Arab American, the Hispanic, the Black. His efforts brought them into the political process in Chicago like never before.

All this Obama applied then on the national scale. Not for 100 years or more, has the grass-roots political landscape be altered. Never has such a high percentage of Americans voted. Have you ever seen lines of waiting voters outside the poll booths like that before, except in South Africa, Chile, Nepal, Palestine, and India? This is new for USA!

          Next? Now that Obama is president-elect, what we can expect? Next week, we share thoughts stemming from the irrefutable campaign decisions by Obama --downside of the campaign. Facing some realities.

[ Why I Am Joyful About The Election of Barak Obama ]

Colin Powell endorses more than Democratic candidate Obama

October 20, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Late in the game, the assumption that Muslim is a stain on one’s character has been challenged. Finally.

The challenge came not from the candidate who should have rebutted the personal attacks, not from the progressive press who allowed the innuendoes to mount, not from the Muslim leadership in the US, not from the only Muslim member of the US Congress, not from Muslims members of the Democratic Party, loyal to the young inspiring candidate, Obama, despite his proudly stated devotion to Israel and its Zionist aims.

The challenge and lesson came from a leading military figure, a former Secretary of State, a Republican Party luminary: Colin Powell.

In an October 19 TV interview, the former secretary of state announced his endorsement for the Democratic Party candidate. There Powell made a point to speak at length about the unmentionable, being Muslim. Why do we treat Muslim identity here as something negative, as un-American, he asked? Powell read the references and retorts to Obama’s possible Muslim background as I and other Muslims did: it was wrong to deny it, and objectionable to suggest it was not something fine. What if an aspirant to the White House were Muslim? So what? That should be as acceptable as any religious identity.

This is an excerpt from Powell’s interview on Sunday’s “Meet the Press”. In reference to questions regarding Obama’s religion, he said: “Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not American. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? ….. "Yet", Powell went on, “ I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America"

The good general then recounts a photo of an American mother at the Arlington cemetery graveside of her soldier son, who died at the age of 20. His name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. "The symbol on his tombstone is the Islamic star and crescent", he takes the time in the interview to point out.

Powell is making more than a political point here. Powell expresses his dismay and objections to the many negative references coming from the McCain camp regarding Muslim identity in the country. But it appears that he is not unaware that the Democratic and so-called liberal community are as guilty of the anti-Muslim bias that disturbs him. Powell is directing his remarks to the entire country, including its leaders. And I cannot help feeling that he is also defining a possible new path for the young Obama. Because by endorsing the Democratic candidate in this context, Colin Powell is surely also endorsing the goodness of being Muslim in America. He is breaking a taboo for the soon-to-be occupant of the White House who, although during his election campaign he may be obliged to bend to Christian and Jewish pressures, as a president, he has to embrace the Muslim is a more mature way.

For those of us who look to the Democratic Party as the beacon of higher social values, of religious inclusiveness and expressed concern for human rights and equal treatment, we have been dismayed at times, feeling no party or leader represents our values. It seemed the party platform was being managed by select interest groups. Muslim and Arab Americans were being shunted aside. Where does one turn at such a critical time, when we have must hope it is possible to restore democratic and universal ideals and to mend broken trust around the world? It is sobering that a voice of maturity, reason and healing emerges from the ranks of the Republican Party, in the person of Colin Powell, a Black American leader, a military man.

[ Colin Powell endorses more than Democratic candidate Obama ]

Remember the Prisoners in Your Prayers

September 01, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

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Ramadan Kareem.

For those of us who are students, or working in education, journalism, the tourism business, travel, today marks a change of routine. For Muslims, it is a welcome day that begins the month of spiritual contemplation, study, and communion with the ummah, the community of Islam.

In my prayers, I remember first and foremost the prisoners.

Prisoners everywhere, whatever their religion, whatever their past transgressions, their innocence, their claims, they are denied the brotherhood and sisterhood and family essential to human life and growth and hope. It is an especially difficult hardship at this time. Among those captives, I remember those fellow Muslims held illegally by US authorities. As an American citizen, I must accept some responsibility. And shame.

No one is unaware of the inhumanity carried out on these men and women, treatment that disgusts us, baffles us, shames us, in its obscenity and venality. The news, images and testimonies have exposed for all the world to witness, the ugly underbelly of America, the hypocrisy, and the deeply entrenched racism, now directed overwhelmingly towards Muslims. Hundreds have been summarily deported from their US homes.

Human rights organizations and foreign governments have come forward in the defense of caged men like those in the Guantanamo Bay prison. Some of those released like Sami Al-Hajj, Mozaaem Beg and former Muslim Chaplain James Yee provide testimonies about the injustices. In the US itself, the treatment of political prisoner Sami Al-Arian undermines confidence in the US justice system.

So many others need our attention. Tens of thousands. In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, the US federal prisons, and secret facilities across the world. Almost every Palestinian man has experienced Israeli inflicted imprisonment.

I have no doubt, many of these souls are really subjects of mind-experiments, a fact that will eventually be revealed. They are not tormented for their confessions. They are hostages in a secret study of Islamic belief. What makes these believers so strong, so able to resist all of our brutality, to hold their dignity intact? Given what we hear about the many psychological problems and suicides of US combatants, yes, some would want to compare. That is not their aim however. No these confinements are likely a deranged kind of experiment. The authorities seek to develop ways they can further attack and undermine the faith. Think about it: seven years of torture! Guantanamo, in other words, is nothing less than an experimental laboratory. Am I too cynical?

Not at all. Because faith fundamentally is about Allah, God, not the human vessel of divinity.

[ Remember the Prisoners in Your Prayers ]

Distancing Himself from Muslims; No Leader

July 20, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

[ Distancing Himself from Muslims; No Leader ]

Sami Al-Haj: ex-prisoner 345

May 11, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Free. At last.

Even as journalist Sami Al-Haj displayed his joy to be home, at last, in his native land, Sudan, he remembered the unnamed and unfreed American torture victims yet imprisoned in  Guantanamo US naval base.

He declared “Torture does not end terrorism; torture is terrorism”.

How I admire this man, this journalist, this patriot.

I doubt if I could have withstood a fraction of what he did, even for a year. Could you? Al-Haj somehow survived that American hell 6 years and 5 months!

I wonder if others feel as I do:--shame over American behavior, its leadership, its collaborating psychologists, it lackey media, its stone-hearted jailers, its ignorant citizens, its spineless intellectuals.

At the same time, do you not feel esteem for this young man? Do you not feel renewed hope that public outrage by however few may still be effective to force a government to change? Is this not surely affirmation of how Islam empowers humans with immense inner strength?

How auspicious for me that somehow, last Thursday and Friday, I had access to Al-Jazeera TV. I waited up late in the night to see footage direct from Khartoum. With millions of others, even vicariously, I wanted to welcome that plane carrying the once-young journalist and two of his compatriots when it touched African land at Sudan’s airport.

Gratification; then, momentarily, anger eclipsed this wave of victory. I was forced not to forget from where he had come. I watched Al-Haj manhandled by his captors--uniformed American servicemen carrying their prisoner out of the US Air Force plane and down the steps. Three Americans, each twice Sami’s bulk, gripped him clumsily before passing him to a waiting stretcher. If this is how they treat a human being as they release him, my god, begin to imagine the prison! I glared at the image in shame. Al-Haj’s hands remained bound by his notorious captors, boney legs dangled lifelessly from their clumsy criminal arms. Finally Al-Haj was handed to comrades and laid on a nearby stretcher. There, I witnessed his wrists still bound together at his waist. Only now, firmly on African soil, his own people cut away the bonds.

The Americans had refused. (US authorities arrogantly, reprehensibly maintained they were not releasing Al-Haj as a free man, but rather handing over their prisoner to Sudanese authorities. Forever righteous, our American department of defense. We later learned Al-Haj and his companions were bound and shackled to chairs throughout the long journey.)

Humdulillah, he is home. But the freed man appeared so frail that I thought, “My God, he is sick; he is dying.” The crowd of attendants whisking him into the hospital, cameras rolling all the while, saw something else.

Hardly 20 minutes later, Sami Al-Haj managed to sit up in the hospital bed and he was speaking to the cameras. Grasping a phone, with cameras rolling above him, he was giving an interview condemning his captors, Guantanamo prison itself, the torture methods, the brutality of the Americans. His voice was unwavering and unequivocal. How readily and energetically he reentered his journalist’s voice.

Even though Sami Al-Haj was yet to meet his family, he had to send a message to the world—an urgent testimony-- denunciation of the hypocrisy of the US administration, above all else, to testify to their brutalities.

Al-Haj's firm voice and clear words, his eyes focused as his spoke, affirmed the ignorance and folly of the Americans, the beautiful energy of Islam, the integrity of Al-Jazeera TV network.

Of course one needs to recognize the hard work of many western attorneys in particular. The obstacles they faced seemed insurmountable in the early years when the US Department of Defense was stonewalling any claims of these prisoners rights.  If only shame motivates American civil rights lawyers to challenge the American will, so be it.

[ Sami Al-Haj: ex-prisoner 345 ]

To remember our Iraq: more soldiers' testimonies? No!!

March 19, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

 I do not know how Iraqis around the world are marking the fifth year of the US invasion, destruction, occupation of their land. I doubt that many even note the date. Surely we can hardly think beyond this morning-- will we return home alive from school, work, shopping, the hospital? Can we think beyond when a visa or travel document will arrive, or a phone rings with unpredictable news? Year "Zero +5" has nevertheless been a chance to remind Americans themselves of what kind of catastrophe this has been for their  country. Anti-war friends have been working for years, not without some success. With the US public, now weary of the war and expressing sentiments that it should somehow end, we need to continue the education, and support this movement. But oh, look at what tactics arouse their consciousness! Confessions of atrocities by war veterans.They are frantic to act, as with their desperate, meager, blighted support for the Palestinian struggle. For brothers and sisters in those occupied lands, all they can do is circulate reports about hunger, disease, and unschooled youngsters there. Yet. I have to object to the latest anti-war endeavor--a display. The movement has found a new tool to pry the American people out of their sofas and off their ski-lifts. The arrival of the fifth year of the US invasion of Iraq finds us watching organized confessions by traumatized paid murderers --our Iraq war veterans. One after another, they describe personal carnage they committed as soldiers against fellow human beings-- detainees and other citizens-- in Iraqi homes, cars, workplaces, checkpoints, neighborhoods. We've seen the photos of marauding American hordes moving through Iraq. Thanks to embedded journalists we've been with them on their patrols, witnessing their obscenities and war cries, their gung-ho raids, their assaults into bedrooms, their barked orders to terrified families, their brutish, ugliness in combat. We saw their uncovered faces smiling over naked prisoners and corpses of their victims. I myself need no reminders. We are now so accustomed to images of that brutality; we can hardly distinguish between TV games and news images. Our minds are numb to violence. We need fresh stimuli. I can hear the brainstorming at anti-war strategy meetings. "We've got to have something new for the 5th anniversary. What can we do?" So someone came up with a new spin: American confessions from war, not just their dirty deeds in combat action but from their torture duty too. Likable, soft-spoken (traumatized?) good American boys spill out details of deeds committed against fellow human beings over there. At some level, it may be moving. But it's not really new. Don't you remember the torturers from Abu Ghraib prison, some having served their months' punishment or discharged, spoke on TV, calmly sitting in the living rooms recalling what they were convicted of? Have we forgotten the Vietnam atrocities?     How do you really feel about these confessions? A day, a week, a month of displays? Who do you feel for? And will any American ensure that such a war is never, ever repeated, that your brother or son never, ever does this? [ To remember our Iraq: more soldiers' testimonies? No!! ]

Border Crossing Amman-Iraq ”Detained Again !! from Mohammed, Last of Iraqis Feb 12/08

February 18, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

"Detained Again !!" testimony from just one Iraqi leaving his nation, only to be returned - Mohammed, Last of Iraqis.

I'm writing this in Jordan, Amman, queen Alia airport, it's 8:15 am now and it has been 18 hours since we arrived and still waiting to get back to the great Iraq….I'm still waiting to get back to my country and my home after being rejected by Jordanian intelligence for no reason at all; when he interviewed us he asked us why do you want to get to Jordan? I showed him our invitation to UK and my wife's British birth certificate and told him that I want to travel to UK and my wife wants to issue a British passport from Amman, he asked me where would you stay in Jordan?

I showed him the deed of my father's flat in Amman, then he wrote something and asked me why didn't they let you in last time you came to Amman? I told him I don't know, they haven't told me anything. He asked me again then why do you insist on getting to Amman? I smiled and told him" I told you I want to get to UK and this is possible only through Jordan because the British embassy in Syria doesn't give visas" he told me ok, wait outside ………..it has been 18 hours without food or water...and there is no one to buy anything from…I'm ready to pay 100$ for a sandwich and a bottle or water or at least let us go back home.

They say the Iraqi airplane will arrive at 2 p.m. but from past experience I don't believe that will happen, I believe it will be later than that.

I don't know what to say or feel, I need sleep, I need a sofa or bed, my body is aching from laying on the ground and sitting on the metal chairs, I'm hungry and thirsty….I'm angry, so sad and so so tired, I just want to scream.

I didn't think that I will go throw this experience again…..It's so devastating, it destroys my soul and body, it kills me to see these real, classy and good original Iraqi men and women laying and sleeping on the floor for no mistake they have committed…only because of our original sin …..the sin of being an Iraqi...I remember how these Jordanian pigs used to welcome us before when we were in power…..and when we became weak and in need to get in their country they humiliated us and refused us…I remember how we used to welcome them….I remember how they studied in our universities not only for free but the government was giving them a salary in US dollars when majority of Iraqis haven't seen the dollar or dreamed of holding one…I remember how Iraq used to give them oil for free!! I remember how nice we used to treat them in our universities and in the streets…and I see how they are paying it back to us….things will change and we will be strong and powerful again if god wills….Iraq is great and real Iraqis are greater….it's only the era of idiots controlling a great country and I wish it will be over as soon as possible….it's like someone who doesn't know how to ride a horse and he rides on a mustang, that's how our puppet politicians controls Iraq.

I can't watch this old professor who studied in the USA and worked for many many years in Canada and USA and got back to Iraq to help in building the country he always loved, he got back to Iraq to rebuild it and here he is laying on the floor because he wanted to have a vacation with his daughter and see his other daughter whom he haven't seen since 5 years…

In the airport jail there are three small rooms….one was occupied by men only (men who came without their families) and the two other rooms are for families…we (the detained Iraqis) arranged them like this….In my room there are: a brother and his sister who got a scholarship in an American University and wanted to go to the US…the professor and his daughter…two women who were delegated from the Iraqi government bank (Al-Rafidain Bank)….a Christian girl who wanted to go to the Pharmacy college in Amman because all her family lives there, she was in Baghdad to finish her high school.

In the other families room there are a stewardess in the Iraqi airlines with her two children!! Imagine they didn't let a stewardess that worked on our plane to get to Amman, she was even wearing the uniform!!.....a women with her two children who are students in a primary school in Amman.

In the men's room there are about 13 men, 6 of them are delegated from the ministry of anterior, and one of them is a big merchant and the rest I don't know much about.

It's 9 am now….we are so thirsty ….it has been 19 hours and they didn't brought any water to us…if any one wants to drink water he must drink from the WC tub….the WC was so dirty and I can't believe that anyone can drink from that…we told them we want to buy water and the pig officer replied someone will come soon to take your orders just wait…we will bring you breakfast by the way!!

I told him I don't want your food or water, I don't want anything from you…I want to buy my food and I want to buy my water…you either let me go and buy or send me someone to take my order, he said someone will take your order soon, just wait.

In our room we were chatting all the night we couldn't sleep because it's so hard to sleep in conditions like this…the floor is so dirty and the blankets are dirty too in addition that so many people were using it! People that you don't know how are they or how dirty they are or what disease they have…there is one pillow in each room, it was the treasure at that time…although you can see how clean it is!?

I was talking with that professor who I really admired for the science and experiences he have. He is so educated and classy….I asked him if you were living in the USA and you career was going well why did you get back to Iraq? He said" first of all my mother was crying every time I call her and she was begging me to get back…and when the revolution happened in Iraq and Ahmed Hassan Al Bakir became the president…the Iraqi government asked the scientist to get back to Iraq and help in rebuilding it…they asked each one personally…so I got back and as soon as I got back they asked for me in the governmental palace…as I went there they said thank you so much for being the first to respond to the call of the revolution…….." he stopped and his voice chocked when he said that last sentence…I looked at his face and I noticed his eyes were filled with tears and he was looking so sad, I immediately remembered my father who was in UK and was working there in the 80s and wanted to get back to Iraq. when my mother asked him why he answered her" simply because my country needs me, I must get back to build my country."

…..he stopped talking for about 15 minutes and he changed to another story, the story of his threatening, he said" one of my neighbors have left Iraq and left his home, we live in a neighborhood controlled by AlQaeda and because he is a Shiite he decided to leave his home and head to Jordan before he is threatened, so he left his house and asked me to look after it…one day I saw some people trying to break into his house I went outside and told them stop what are you doing, he said this house is mine now, the prince said so, I laughed and told him are you Muslim?

He said sure, I said don't you know the Quarn verse (to the religious people, don't enter houses that aren't yours unless you ask for permission and greet its owners* this is a translation for the verse it might not be so accurate but I tried to give the meaning*)…and I told him let me talk to your prince…an hour later he came back with someone and he begun yelling and cursing and he hit me then I called the awakening and they resolved the issue…few days later I received a poem written on a paper that says (don't you think we forgot you or will forget you, we will kill you and if not then we must be dead).

I told him then why didn't you leave Iraq? He said I'll never be afraid of such low lives, it's my country and I will never leave it, I left everything for it, and I'm not afraid, when god wants me to die, I'll die no matter what I do.

It's 10:15 am they finally brought a small bottle of water for each one and the breakfast (fried chicken!!) and someone came to take the order I ordered some chocolates, water and pizza (which the only alternative for chicken) I paid the guy and the rest were discussing what they want, and the bastard officer said "leave them, they are acting like young stupid kids, they will never decide" that's when I said enough is enough….I told him "why do you say that…I don't allow you to talk like this about descent Iraqi men, he said can't you see it has been a long time and they haven't decided what they want yet, I told him" can't you see that they don't have Jordanian Dinars! Can't you see that you don't accept Iraqi Dinar! Can't you see that they only have 100$ banknotes!! Can't you see the way they have slept the night! I'd like to see how will you act when you sleep like this…then I turned around and left him.

It's 1:00 pm they asked us to get ready because the plane has arrived, we carried our handbags and waited for the plane which to my surprise came at time. We reached Baghdad and I was feeling some happiness because I'll be able to sleep on a bed, on my bed in my home without humiliation I reached home at 6 pm.

Now when I review my writings I feel so much pain and very very sad , it was a different thing last time when they didn't let me in, I was going for a vacation and this time it was to secure my future and try to make my dreams true, last time when they didn't let me in I immediately went to Syria and I had so much fun that made me forget what happened and it's effects, but now….oh now…I'm so sad, I'm so sad, I even don't have the mood to write a letter, I feel my chest is getting narrower on my heart everyday and my lungs are getting smaller every minute…when I open my bags to put my stuff back I feel the failure with every jeans and shirt I put back…I feel the disappointment every minute, a stupid low life intelligence officer destroyed my future and killed my dreams, a legal dream of having a secure safe future, a dream of becoming a dentist in a place that appreciate science and doctors, not trying to kill each one of them….a dream of trying to have a normal life and live like the rest of the world do….not living as a prisoner in my home…where there is no place I can go without endangering my life…and even at home I'm not sure of my safety…a stupid officer made me sleep on the floor and starve me!! A stupid officer prevented us from seeing our families whom we miss so much…a stupid officer destroyed our dreams….

this is what happened in one day…this is a story for one person…just imagine every day how many stories like this happens…every day…can you imagine? This is a serious issue….I don't know what the Iraqis are made of to stand these crisis? What happens every day in that cursed airport is something so important, where is the media from all of this? It really requires the media attention, the light must be spotted on this issue and I'm ready to help as much as I can to expose the truth. http://last-of-iraqis.blogspot.com/2008/02/detained-again.html

[ Border Crossing Amman-Iraq ”Detained Again !! from Mohammed, Last of Iraqis Feb 12/08 ]

Watching Gaza

February 03, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

 

We are all watching Gaza. Some fret, others send money to someone who might pass it to a family. We dare not send it to an organization that could lead to charges of supplying Hamas--a (US/Israel) banned 'entity'. (The T-list they assign Hamas to really scares us; have no doubt.)

The rest of us criticize the Arab leaders, the American leaders, the Israelis, and the Palestinian Authority itself.

Last week I read in a North African paper that because of Israel’s policy towards Gazans, Mauritania, one of a handful of Arab countries with official ties to Israel, was considering suspending their diplomatic relation. A few days later, we hear of an armed attack on the Israeli embassy in Mauritania’s capital. Now instability threatens the country and neighboring Chad.The  Saharan area, where the US desperately wants to impose its Africom base, is destabilizing!  Back to Gaza, if we can bear it.

We watched Gaza’s economy crumble. We watched Israel mercilessly attack its people. We watched the electricity go off, the streets fill with water, the dead laying in pieces, the crushed homes-- score upon score—blasted. We watched the tens of thousands of Gazans protest the Annapolis conference (while we ourselves remained mute). We hear UN administrators’ reports of scarcity and poverty, of its inability to feed its Gazan wards. We read of spreading hunger; we listen to experts warning of increasing disease and rising death and despair.

Maybe be a few of us write to a US official to plead for some respite for the Palestinians. Perhaps a few more write to an Israeli embassy demanding a change in their heartless, torturous policies.

But essentially we are all simply watching. At a certain point in the crisis, we have to look at the facts. We are not ignorant. We cannot pretend the treatment of Gazans, and all Palestinians for that matter, is anything but absolutely wrong-- morally and politically. But we are all rendered mute. We simply watch.

Anyone who once ventured into Gaza to offer moral support is now stopped. Anyone who sent funds to help rebuild hospitals and schools are now afraid to do so. Anyone who spoke for the elected Gazan government no longer does so.

When the wall at Rafah was broken and desperate people rushed into Egypt for supplies, we had new images. Still we simply watched. Some thought those forays into the markets on the Egyptian side of the border were a sign of the fortitude of the Gazans and cheered them on. Others saw the open border as a tactic by Israel to test if it might later dump the whole of Gaza onto the Egyptians. I watched, embarrassed.

Are we not all somewhat embarrassed by this? by our own cowardice and fear of Israel? by our reluctance and inability to take a stand for a banned people?

Surely we are not waiting for our chance to elect a new US president to represent our cause for Palestinians.

 

 

 

[ Watching Gaza ]

Dakar Rally Cancelled

January 20, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Should western sportsmen exhibit their prowess in the midst of regional wars and difficulties?

As 2008 Olympic event in China approaches, human rights advocates are using the high profile event to protest Chinese policies across the world. How can a nation with such a bad human rights policy be the host of a hallowed, clean-spirited event as the Olympics?” charge critics. Now we have another angle. Organizers of the Dakar Rally across desert stretches of Africa have called their race off due to security fears. “If you want to be worthy of club membership in ‘our’ great sports competitions, change your politics.”

The 20 year odd ‘tradition’ of the Dakar car rally, 2008, from Portugal to Senegal was cancelled on short notice, not by the African states involved but by its French sponsors. It is hard to know if the decision is due to terrorist fears as officials claim.

Rallies like Dakar are really part of the neo-colonial trend of making western sports events more exotic. A form of ‘extreme sports’. Heavily financed participants race across rich, poor and far-flung corners of the world where poverty, negligence or local conflicts cause havoc among nearby inhabitants.

Sports events on this scale have shown little respect for the ills of local populations. They ignore their politics? If some carrot is offered to leaders, these transient, high-powered sportsmen care little about any raging war just a few miles away. Take the new tennis and golf competitions now held in Dubai and other Gulf Emirates, hardly an hour by plane to Iraq. And did you hear any protests from mountaineers and hikers to Nepal during the last decade of war there? Few Himalayan enthusiasts were willing to jeopardize their holidays by protesting that nation’s royal dictatorship and abuses. During the 40 years that I have known Nepal, I heard not a whisper from Peace Corps volunteers, anthropologists, trekkers, or the high altitude elites, that the widespread poverty supporting their cheap holidays was in anyway related to visitors themselves.

But the Dakar cancellation does not seem to have deterred others. I read in a local Algerian newspaper that a Harley Davidson club is planning a rally across this country in May. Up to a hundred motorcycle enthusiasts will roar across the mountains of Algeria and into the Sahara towards the nomad camps of the fabled Tourag in the far south. [ Dakar Rally Cancelled ]



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We believe that our problem is one not a violation of civil rights but a violation of human rights. Not only are we denied the right to be a citizen in the United States, we are denied the right to be a human being"    

Malcolm X, Jan 5, 1965

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