News Stories

Iraqi Blogger Goes Public

One of the underground heroes of the Iraq war was the anonymous blogger who posted daily messages about what it felt like to live through the war. After the downfall of Saddam, Salam Pax came out of hiding, and now writes for the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. His latest blog tells what it's really like in Baghdad today.

"Salam Pax" is obviously still writing under a pseudonym, since "pax" means "peace" in Latin, and "salam" is an Arabic greeting. He says, "As you go into Baghdad from the west there is graffiti on the walls that says, 'Welcome to the Republic of Darkness and Unemployment.'" He writes about how tough it was when the electricity was off for a whole day. He says, "Muhammad, one of the drivers, decided the best place for his family to sleep was in the car with the engine running and the air-conditioning on." He says most Iraqis think the Western news they see on TV is all lies and describes a newscaster "as another Saddam; we see him every day on TV, and the news is all about what he says and what he does?Somehow you feel like he lives in a bubble and has absolutely no idea what the people are saying."

He talks about riots in Basra. "Two days of riots and about eight Iraqis injured. At least the Coalition forces didn't call the rioters 'Saddam loyalists,' at least there is some acknowledgment that these are people who are upset with the way the occupation forces are mismanaging the country."

At a press conference he attended, "The press guy, at the request of the conference, was telling journalists that the instantaneous translation thingy has two channels; channel one for Arabic, channel two for English. I would like to add another channel: channel three for the truth."

[In order to get in,] "you have to be there an hour early, you get searched a thousand times and, of course, as an Iraqi I get treated like shit. I have no idea why the American soldiers at the entrance to the convention center?are so offensive towards Iraqis while they can be so nice to anyone with a foreign passport?The reporters of Iraq Today were not allowed to get to the press conference and they went ballistic. 'This is my friggin' government, what do you mean I can't get in?'?Keep this image in your head: an American officer stopping you, an Iraqi, from attending the press conference your government is holding." He says, "Earlier in the day I got frisked and the car I was in searched because the colonel?who just passed by thought?I was giving him dirty looks?Because you have the power to decide what a look means, I got searched. You really should have looked more carefully before you shot the nine-year-old kid in Ramadi only to find out later that it was a water gun he had in his hands. Dirty looks?yeah, totally justified frisking me."

Why all the anger??After all, we did get rid of Saddam for them. Pax writes, "?I am annoyed because if the occupation forces fail, my country will fall apart."

Trying hard isn't enough. If we?re going to win the war on freedom, and not lose our Western culture and freedoms, we need to do things right.

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