A most wonderful post… from Iraq

A most wonderful post… from Iraq

: This week, I got the best email I have received since … well, since there has been email. Some of you will remember that I’ve been pushing the idea that Iraq needs weblogs to free the voices of the Iraqi people in Iraq and in the world. I said we needed a thousand Salam Paxes.

Well, here is the first.

Zeyad, a 24-year-old dentist in Baghdad who learned impeccable English in Britain, just started a blog called Healing Iraq. I’ll quote it in a minute. But first, I want to show you the most gratifying and promising letter he sent me (my emphases):

Dear Jeff,

Thank you for the wonderful experience which has been your weblog. I stumbled across it following a link from Salam’s blog I guess, and it has been a great read, I consumed most of it in 3 days.

A little bit about myself: My name is Zeyad, I’m 24, male, a dentist, I live in Baghdad, Iraq, have also lived in London for 6 years as a child, English is actually my first language which I learned before Arabic.

The reason I’m writing is that you have convinced me of the importance of introducing weblogs to Iraqis. I’m sure most people here have never even heard of weblogs. I myself discovered them only a few days before the war. I mainly followed Salam, G, turningtables and Riverbend’s blogs, but I have been also discovering more and more of them. And I’ve been pointing them out to people here, and you will be surprised of the number of bright and intelligent young people in Iraq who are willing to start their own blogs and express their ideas and opinions freely, especially that they have nothing to fear from doing so any more.

I don’t expect America alone to do everything for us while we just sit and criticize. I want to be part of it, I want to participate, to contribute, to do anything for my country and the world. Some people may consider this as being a ‘collaborator with infidel zionist occupying forces’. If trying to build your country and helping others do so makes you that, then I can proudly say out loud ‘Yes, I am a collaborator!’.

Internet is still new to most Iraqis, very few people had it before the war, according to SCIS which was the state owned ISP the percentage of Iraqis using the Internet was 0.001 percent of the population, and they were intent on keeping it that way.

But now things are different, Internet cafes are all over Baghdad, there are nine of them in my block alone, and someone estimated them at 300 in Baghdad now, and there are more opening daily, but sadly only a few who still have the privilege of functioning telephone lines have Internet accounts at home….

Anyway, forgive me for digressing. Like I said I am willing to start my own blog now, I’m also planning to make one in Arabic as well, so Iraqi Arabic writers can do the same. And also for the Arab world, as you know tens of millions of Arabs are still living under totalitarian regimes similar to Saddam’s. And I was dissapointed to find very few weblogs by Arab people dealing with political and social issues in the Arab and Islamic world. I have always been concerned about our voice not reaching the rest of the world. Sadly a very large majority in the west still see us as people living in tents, dressed with turbans and robes, riding camels and cursing the ‘infidel’ west. This is a myth, and the reason Arab people aren’t building bridges with the west is because they are so hopeless about their future under their oppressing regimes and their Islamic mullahs who both wish to keep it that way, so they can go on plundering our money and laughing at our chins while warning us of the grave fate that Allah has prepared for us if we don’t do it their way. I’m sick of all of that.

Despite what you see in the Arab world from people bashing the American

‘occupation’ of Iraq, the truth is that they all desire the same in their hearts and minds, because deep inside they all know that they have all been occupied for years by their own regimes. And they are yearning for their freedom. Most of what you see is really Arab regimes speaking, not the people. They know their time has come and that their days are numbered. THEY are the real terrorists. I wish you would also focus on these issues in your blog.

I digress again. But what you are reading is a glimpse of what I’m intending

to write about in my future blog…. What do western readers need to know? What should I focus on? You talked me into this so you are obligated in helping me!

I assure you that many will follow my steps because that is why I’m doing

this. Our voice will be heard at last.

Goosebumps. I got damned goosebumps.

The power and freedom of this medium that we’ve all talked about from the comfort of our couches is very real for someone in Iraq (or Iran) and Zeyad is on the frontline more than any of us. This is the true weblog revolution.

: Only a day later, he put up his blog on Blogspot. Go read it! You’ll find reporting of a witness and a citizen that is beyond anything an outside reporter can possibly give you.

His first two posts are about the release of the new Iraqi dinars and the crisis that did not erupt around that. And here is how he ends his first post, writing about Saddam:

But he has been mysteriously silent for a while. Maybe the Americans are really closing in on him as they say. I want to live long enough to see him caught ALIVE. the possibilities would be endless. I’m sure it would be a great day for some real celebration in Iraq. I just hope the Americans won’t make the stupid mistake of killing him like they did with his sons. Some might ask ‘but wouldn’t you like to see him killed?’. Believe me I would. But I would rather see him alive and humiliated for all he has done to this country and to humanity. I’m not even sure a trial would satisfy me. I want him to be put in a large glass cage at Fardus square where his statue once stood. It should be bulletproof so that no idiot would simply come and shoot him. He would sit in rags and be fed garbage once a day. People from all over Iraq and the world would come to watch him until he rots. It would be our national zoo, our primary tourists attraction. I would give 20 years of my life just to see that. And I’m sure 30 million Iraqis would do the same. I just hope someone from the Pentagon is listening.

First one. Then two. Then a thousand. Then ten thousand.

And you will hear the fresh voice of freedom from Iraq.

Thank you, Zeyad.

: How can you help? Well one of you can go buy off Zeyad’s ad. Another can buy up his plan so he can post photos. I plan to get him a digital camera so we can also see his life and his neighborhood, so Iraq becomes a less alien place for all of us, so we become neighbors ourselves.

: Here are my earlier posts urging that we help Iraqis create weblogs: a, b.