Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Hearts and minds.

I guess we all agree that hatred is probably the main precursor of violence, so a full understanding for this unpleasant feeling is needed if we we’re looking for a way to end the violence, and finding answers for questions like: why hatred appeared? when did it begin for the first time? what are the related factors? and who contributed in provoking hatred? Is a key step in curing hatred.

As the world is living the 3rd memorial of the 9/11 attacks, the BBC opened a forum for Arab readers to allow them to voice their feelings about the “hatred wave against America”. This time the forum has a special significance because Arabs are directly related to this topic and the largest part of this “wave” comes from Arab countries.
I’ve found that all Iraqi participants (except for two) carry no hatred for America, not to mention the admiration and gratitude for America that were clear in some Iraqis’ comments.

Anyway, I decided to translate most of the comments posted by Iraqis along with some of the Arabs’ comments that caught my attention so that you can view some opinions that can rarely be seen in the media and I decided not to translate any of the offensive comments which you can find almost everywhere. I must add that most of these posters with offensive comments said that their comments were directed “against the American government, not the people”.

“America is not an enemy of Arabs and Muslims, on the contrary, on many occasions she backed Muslims when other Muslims did nothing like in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. America helped us get rid of the worst dictatorship in history and despite the unstable security situation now in Iraq we breath freely and say whatever we want to say without fear from Saddam and his dogs
I was-and still-working as a teacher and Saddam was paying me 2 dollars a month, can you imagine that? while he paid thousands and thousands to his followers. Things now are much better for me and I feel grateful for America and the coalition for what they did to save us”
Amjad Al Ubaidy -Baghdad/Iraq.

“The Americans are peaceful and smart people. Unfortunately, this hatred was created by some clerics who try to brain-wash the youth every Friday after the prayers so many would go out with hatred in their hearts and anger toward America”
Reemon A’adil Sammi-Iraq.

“The truth is that people who encourage the dialogue and call for friendship with the US are the people who have reached a conclusion that the era of arrogance, fake heroism, ridiculous Ba├íthist
slogans and Arab stubbornness that made Arabs the most backward among nations, has come to an end. It’s enough to acknowledge that the economy of a European country such as Spain is stronger than the economy of the Arab countries collectively. The pro-American youth are the best and the most educated while those who consider them traitors can bring only death and doom.”

“First of all I’d like to send my condolences to our American friends on the third memorial day for the terrorist attacks. And I send my condolences too to my Iraqi fellow citizens who have been suffering from terrorism every day and every hour for nearly two years on the hands of people who hide behind slogans of religion and patriotism.
I call all Iraqis to build strong relations with the Americans. Hatred has to be eradicated especially between Iraq and USA (if ever existed) and between Arabs and USA in general.
The false slogans of Arab nationalism that emerge here and there calling people to hate America are all against the interests of our people. We followed these slogans for decades and look what we’ve ended up with; poor countries ruled by dictators. We must head to the other side and hopefully we can find our goal there and put an end to the poverty and oppression that are ruining our nation”
Mohammed Abu kelel-Najaf/Iraq.

“The Arab youths are living under cultural, religious and even sexual repression while people in the West enjoy all aspects of freedom and this motivates the Arabs to immigrate to the US or Europe to be able to live in a civilized environment but unfortunately most immigrants fail to merge with the western communities because of the effect of the religious heritage they accumulated since childhood therefore they tend to establish a closed Islamic-Arab community in America or Europe and this will eventually lead to a conflict between the two cultures”
Mohammed Othman-Syria.

“I had finished my studies in America and lived there for years and I sensed how advanced is that country but I was shocked when I returned back to my country to see how the governments are humiliating our people. I chanted anti-American slogans against my will and I long for living there again and I’m sure that some of those who have spoke against America on this forum wouldn’t mind living in America in spite of all the hatred their words contained”

“I believe the West has a lot of good qualities for which we should show respect and love and perhaps its being a shelter for runaways from oppression and poverty in our Arab countries is the most admirable thing.
Arabs’ hatred towards America is primarily attributed to the political and religious system in Arab countries which is feeding this hatred because of the belief that any proximity between Arab and American people would weaken its (the system’s) position among its people. The losing party from this hatred remains the Arab people that needs the West’s help in many fields while the West needs us in very few ones and that’s why who opposes the West is in fact opposing his own interests.
The question remains: shall we let the hatred provokers use us?”

“The problem lies inside us, the Arabs; whether governors or citizens. We’re still living the era of backwardness, ignorance and crying for the past. We don’t understand how decisions are made in America and the defect is within ourselves.
I’m a big admirer of America and the progress that America had achieved in such a short period.
One more thing, those who offend America must not forget that it was America who helped the Muslims in Albania, Bosnia, Kuwait and Sudan. Where is the Arab civilization? We never saw the Arabs offer help but we all saw the food packages and flour sacks carrying the letters USA.
The problem with Arabs is that they always have find someone to put the blame on.”
“America should not be blamed for the hatred that grew against her. If an Arab country (with powers similar to those of America) have suffered what America had suffered from terrorism and if it was some Americans who carried out the attacks on that Arab country. The Arabs would’ve terminated America and slaughtered every American woman and child just like what the Islamists are doing now in Iraq”
Yusuf Al Muhandis-Iraq.

“America is the leader of the world and she represents the tip of the pyramid in economy, science, sports, military power and many other fields and if someone is looking for progress, justice and freedom then America is his destination while those who want to bring back the dark ages consider America their enemy.
It’s true that America and her society have some negative points but these look tiny when compared with the positive ones.
America’s success is a success for the civilized world and her failure is a failure for the whole world. If you don’t trust my words take a look at America’s allies and friends and see how they live and then take a look at America’s enemies, they’re living in poverty under oppressive tyrannies. Just make a comparison between the two Koreas to have a closer view”
Mohammed Khafaji-Babylon/Iraq.

“America offers freedom for free. It’s true that I’ve never been there and I don’t have friends living there either but I keep America in my mind and sole. Hatred was brought to us by the extremists; the enemies of mankind.
I and every true Iraqi love America because to us she represents freedom and liberation. America untied us from Saddam’s chains and also liberated Yugoslavia from her dictator and liberated Germany before that. History is full of events that support my feelings”
Hazim Al Shammari-Bafgdad/Iraq.

I have a secret to share with you; we (my brothers and I) used to hate America some years ago, just like the vast majority of Iraqis and that was the result of being isolated from the rest of the world by the thick walls Saddam built around us. We used to be reading one newspaper, watching one channel and hearing one voice; the voice of the “mighty leader” that looked eternal but those feelings gradually changed after we started to see more clearly who was actually responsible for Iraq’s misery and began to open our eyes, ears and minds to other points of view and to other sources of information in a seriously dangerous search for the truth.

Later, the uncertain feeling changed to a more positive one when we realized that our only chance to get rid of the tyrant was in America’s hands especially after 9/11 and the events that followed that day as we saw that America is determined to fight terrorism and terrorism-supporting criminal regimes.

During the eighteen months that followed 9/11 we were dreaming of the day when the “zero hour” finally comes and nothing will ever match what we felt when we saw the first missile strike Saddam’s palace.
After we started this blog, we had the chance to meet many Americans, both civilians and soldiers and we discovered the noble feelings and the warm wishes they have for Iraq and Iraqis and that made me believe more than ever that we’ve put our trust in the right place.
Yes, I love America and I’m a friend of all American, and I’m truly proud of that, and so are many, many Iraqis who owe their freedom to the great sacrifices made by American people.


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