Eclectic Floridian: Iraqi's private thoughts ...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Iraqi's private thoughts ...

NOTE: This post has been modified: I originally posted saying that Raed was in attendance at the conference. I got an email saying that he is the son of Faiza who actually attended and posted the comments. Faiza, my apologies and ... honestly, it was not male chauvinism, just a misunderstanding. The name Raed has been replaced by Faiza and he/him has been replaced by she/her. Accept my apology... please?

A post on "A Family in Baghdad" on April 10th, made me more aware of how easy it is for Americans to go wrong in the Middle East. Faiza attended a conference for Iraqi women leaders. I prefer to believe that those espousing the US view feel they are using established "communications techniques" to educate Iraqis. But, reading Faiza's feelings about the presentation makes me have to re-think.

I am a scientific-minded son of a fundamentalist Protestant minister. Imagining my thinking in one of those church services today, I feel I have stepped into Faiza's shoes. Here are some of her thoughts about an Arab lecturer (in her words):

"The lecturer was well-cultured, but he looked like there was a brand on his brow that says: Made in America… they wouldn't have employed him as the head of an American university if he wasn't of the brand that was: Made in America…
How do we trust him???? This is a big point of suspicion that wouldn't let us believe in his intentions, and won't imagine them to be innocent.
As if he was saying: The solution is; topple all those governments, push the clergy out of your lives, have reconciliation with Israel…
Oh, yes, we do want to topple these rotten, tyrant governments, we do want to change the narrow minds of the clergy; we do want to solve our problems with Israel…
BUT NOT THE AMERICAN WAY. We should solve our problems the way that suits us, without the interference of America, because America is not completely innocent of the devastation that has befallen our life…
We have an Iraqi parable that describes some man: He tells the thief to go on and steel, and tells the wealth owner to beware…
And that is exactly what the imperial western countries are doing with our governments, and people… they provoke one against the other… and play the role of the adviser to each.
And in truth, they want nothing but their interests."
Finally, the conference breaks down because the lecturers do not want to respond to angry questions about how divisive the proposed government is along religious lines. With tears in my eyes (literally), I give you some of Faiza's parting words:

"I have hope in the Iraqis who didn't join Saddam in his injustice, nor joined America in her injustice. Those who endured the embargo, the war, the injustice, the devastation, and destruction… those who were not satisfied with what happened to Iraq, or what is happening now….
Those are the new opposition…
An opposition against the existence of the foreign occupation of Iraq… and against all who support this occupation, or spread and market its thoughts…
An opposition against every terrorist act targeting the innocent Iraqis, civilians, army, and police…
Those will not take refuge in another country, encouraging her to wage a war on Iraq… who believe that Iraq is for Iraqis, the wealth of Iraq is for Iraqis, and take their strength from their people, not from foreign forces."
I, a US citizen, sincerely hope that Faiza is just misreading our way of communicating. If she is reading our intentions correctly, I am ashamed of us. Americans! Please read this with an open mind.

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