Saturday, February 19, 2005

Good morning..
I`ve got this email in my mailbox.
it amazed me !
what can I say?
just sending him all my respect and love for his brave heart.

Dear Faiza,
I love reading your postings. Please keep up your courage. You do make a difference.

This is an example of a real American. I'm so proud of him.Forward from Code Pink:We were delighted to receive a phone call yesterday,February 15, from Camilo Mejia, letting us know that he has just been released from prison! Some of you might remember Camilo, a courageous soldier who spent8 months fighting in Iraq, came home for a 2-weekfurlough, and decided that he could not—in good conscience—return to Iraq. He applied for Conscientious Objector status, and was declared aPrisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International. Butthe US military convicted him of desertion, and senthim to serve a one-year prison sentence in Fort Sill,Oklahoma.

Regaining My Humanity
By Camilo Mejia
Thursday 17 February 2005
I was deployed to Iraq in April 2003 and returnedhome for a two-week leave in October. Going home gave me the opportunity to put my thoughts in orderand to listen to what my conscience had to say. People would ask me about my war experiences and answering them took me back to all the horrors-the firefights,the ambushes, the time I saw a young Iraqi dragged by his shoulders through a pool of his own blood or aninnocent man was decapitated by our machine gunfire. The time I saw a soldier broken down inside because he killed a child, or an old man on his knees,crying with his arms raised to the sky, perhaps asking God why we had taken the lifeless body of his son. I thought of the suffering of a people whose country was in ruins and who were further humiliated by the raids, patrols and curfews of an occupying army. And I realized that none of the reasons we weretold about why we were in Iraq turned out to be true. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.We weren't helping the Iraqi people and the Iraqi people didn't want us there. We weren't preventing terrorism or making Americans safer. I couldn't find asingle good reason for having been there, for having shot at people and been shot at. Coming home gave me the clarity to see the line between military duty and moral obligation. Irealized that I was part of a war that I believed was immoral and criminal, a war of aggression, a war ofimperial domination. I realized that acting upon myprinciples became incompatible with my role in themilitary, and I decided that I could not return toIraq. By putting my weapon down, I chose to reassert myself as a human being. I have not deserted the military or been disloyal to the men and women of the military. I have not been disloyal to a country. Ihave only been loyal to my principles. When I turned myself in, with all my fears anddoubts, it did it not only for myself. I did it forthe people of Iraq, even for those who fired upon me-they were just on the other side of a battleground where war itself was the only enemy. I did it forthe Iraqi children, who are victims of mines and depleted uranium. I did it for the thousands of unknown civilians killed in war. My time in prisonis a small price compared to the price Iraqis andAmericans have paid with their lives. Mine is a smallprice compared to the price Humanity has paid forwar. Many have called me a coward, others have calledme a hero. I believe I can be found somewhere in themiddle. To those who have called me a hero, I saythat I don't believe in heroes, but I believe thatordinary people can do extraordinary things. To those who have called me a coward I say thatthey are wrong, and that without knowing it, theyare also right. They are wrong when they think thatI left the war for fear of being killed. I admit thatfear was there, but there was also the fear ofkilling innocent people, the fear of putting myselfin a position where to survive means to kill, therewas the fear of losing my soul in the process ofsaving my body, the fear of losing myself to mydaughter, to the people who love me, to the man I used to be, the man I wanted to be. I was afraid ofwaking up one morning to realize my humanity hadabandoned me. I say without any pride that I did my job as asoldier. I commanded an infantry squad in combat andwe never failed to accomplish our mission. But thosewho called me a coward, without knowing it, are alsoright. I was a coward not for leaving the war, butfor having been a part of it in the first place.Refusing and resisting this war was my moral duty, a moral duty that called me to take a principled action.I failed to fulfill my moral duty as a human beingand instead I chose to fulfill my duty as a soldier.All because I was afraid. I was terrified, I did notwant to stand up to the government and the army, Iwas afraid of punishment and humiliation. I went towar because at the moment I was a coward, and for that I apologize to my soldiers for not being the typeof leader I should have been. I also apologize to the Iraqi people. To them Isay I am sorry for the curfews, for the raids, forthe killings. May they find it in their hearts toforgive me. One of the reasons I did not refuse the war fromthe beginning was that I was afraid of losing myfreedom. Today, as I sit behind bars I realize thatthere are many types of freedom, and that in spite ofmy confinement I remain free in many important ways.What good is freedom if we are afraid to follow ourconscience? What good is freedom if we are not able to live with our own actions? I am confined to aprison but I feel, today more than ever, connectedto all humanity. Behind these bars I sit a free manbecause I listened to a higher power, the voice of myconscience. While I was confined in total segregation, I cameacross a poem written by a man who refused andresisted the government of Nazi Germany. For doing so he was executed. His name is Albrecht Hanshofer,and he wrote this poem as he awaited execution. Guilt The burden of my guilt before the law weighs light upon my shoulders; to plot and to conspire was my duty to the people; I would have been a criminal had I not. I am guilty, though not the way you think, I should have done my duty sooner, I was wrong, I should have called evil more clearly by its name I hesitated to condemn it for far too long. I now accuse myself within my heart: I have betrayed my conscience far too long I have deceived myself and fellow man. I knew the course of evil from the start My warning was not loud nor clear enough! Today I know what I was guilty of... To those who are still quiet, to those whocontinue to betray their conscience, to those who arenot calling evil more clearly by its name, to thoseof us who are still not doing enough to refuse andresist, I say "come forward." I say "free yourminds." Let us, collectively, free our minds, softenour hearts, comfort the wounded, put down ourweapons, and reassert ourselves as human beings by putting an end to war. ______________________________

Good morning..
i liked this email from my friend Roberta..
and i promised her to put it on my blog.
i really loved her grandmother !
may God bless her soul.

Hello Faiza,

It has been so long since I have written to you, but I have been reading and following your adventures from Cairo to Amman-- and though I know how much you must miss home, I must say I am happy that you are safe and comfortable for the moment in Amman and am happy to read that evidently you will be staying there for awhile. I sometimes feel when I read your blog that I am having a conversation with you so I want to do my part and offer some comments on what you are writing these days. I applaud you for talking about women, society and religion in your blog and I identify with many of the things you say.

I was very moved by the emails from the mothers of dead American soldiers that you posted. The depth of their anger and sorrow touched me as a woman and a mother. We mothers are a universal sisterhood. American mothers who lose soldier sons to car bombs and Iraqi mothers who lose children to bullets from an American soldier's gun feel the same terrible pain. It is ironic that in a mother's pain there is no enemy or friend-- no good or bad--no right or wrong--just a single universal grief.

As for the condition of women, well, I don't think it is a simple thing in any culture or religion. Let me tell you a little story about my maternal grandmother, now gone from this world, whom I loved and admired very much. She was a very intelligent woman who was orphaned at the age of four and raised by her grandmother and a maiden aunt in a small town in Eastern Kansas. She graduated first in her class from high school at a time when many women did not even finish that level of education and then wanted to attend University and earn a Bachelor's degree. Her grandmother and her aunt refused, saying that they would send her to a teacher's training school where she could become certified to teach young children. My grandmother insisted that she wanted to go to the University and use the money that had been left by her father for her education. Her desire for further education became the talk of the small town she lived in. This was in the late 1890's when very few universities even accepted women students. Well, one Sunday, in church, the minister preached a whole sermon about the spiritual dangers of higher education for women( I guess he had heard the local gossip about my grandmother!) He talked about how women's brains were smaller than men's and they were more delicate and not suited for the rigors of higher education. He spoke of how women needed to be protected and respected and that no respectable women would want to over- educate herswelf. He warned that a girl would lose her health, her mind and probably her virtue if she went to University and would be unfit to be a wife and mother. His talk so angered my grandmother's grandmother and aunt that they changed their minds and let my grandmother go down to the newly opened University of Kansas which did accept women students. She went, and in 1904 graduated with a B.A. in Latin and Greek. She also met my grandfather while she was there and married him the following year. She used to say that the very same people who had been so against her going to the University shook their heads when she announced her marriage and said" what a pity, all that education wasted" My grandmother always said that education was even more important for a woman than for a man because it made her a better wife and mother and that when you educated a woman you educated her future children as well. She told me when I was small" you never know what is going to happen in life and a woman must be able to take care of herself and her children and a good education gives her more tools for facing life" It was assumed from the time I was a little girl that I would get a University education. Had I wanted to marry after high school, my grandmother would have been very disappointed. Oh yes, and one more thing-- when my grandmother graduated from the University of Kansas, women could not vote. American women didn't get the vote until 1920 so imagine this--my university educated grandmother could not vote, but a man who could not read or write could, just because he was a man.

And now-- on the subject of religion-- I saw a documentary on Saudi Arabia the other night on TV. One of the people interviewed was a conservative Muslim clergyman( sorry I don't know the correct word) Anyway he was very upset because 47 Saudi women had staged a demonstration by driving their cars and I thought as I listened to him talk that he sounded just like that Christain clergyman who preached against higher education for women in my grandmother's church all those years ago. He basically said these women were evil for wanting to drive and for disobeying the law and he suggested that their male relatives punish them(like children?). He seemed to feel very threatened. I don't think that either Christianity or Islam is hostile to women but it does seem to me that some men of both religions need to keep women down and seem very frightened of female power of any kind. I don't know why. This does not seem to change much from generation to generation or from country to country.

It seems to me, Faiza, that though you are a Muslim and I a Christian, we are both in the hands of the same merciful God and if our religions disagree on the details, it isn't important. We are like two people standing on opposite sides of a great mountain and gazing up at it. We each see the mountain from where we stand and each have a slightly different view--but the mountain is still the mountain, it does not change. We just have a slightly different view of its landscape. God is God and we are women--sisters in our humanity with more that unites us than divides us. May the God that created us both help us all in these troubled times.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Saturday, February 12, 2005
Good morning….
The weather in Amman is still rainy, with fog…. The last week was full of cold and rain since its beginning, then, there was snow.
Our house is in a high-altitude district, and I like watching the snow fall down, but I do not like being confined to the house, delaying all the many tasks I intended to finish that day. I went to the market, and bought more heavy, winter clothes, because it was very cold, and everybody was asking: Do you have cold such as this in Baghdad? And I would laugh and say: No, we have intense heat at summer, just as severe as this cold, and both are unbearable. Moderation is nice…in weather…principals…and the way of life.
And Extremistism is not agreeable, also in weather, principals, and the way of life.
I think the Iraqis living in Amman were delighted to see snow for the first time, a fascinating scene for them. And as my sister, who lives in Amman since the end of the war says, laughing; We have seen wars, missiles, and terror in Baghdad, then the last-year earthquake here, then the snow of this year… ha,ha,ha… we do live to see many things.
These days are the beginning of the Hijri (Islamic) Year… and it reminds us of the Immigration of the Prophet Mohammad (The Prayers of GOD Be upon Him, and His Peace) from Mecca to Al-Medina, to move away from confronting harsh conditions, He and the new Muslims, for they were weak, and couldn’t face Quraish, the unjust, tyrant tribe, who enforced an embargo upon them, and hurt them, preventing them from living peacefully, and spreading the call of the new Religion.
The first Muslims immigrated, leaving behind their homes, and possessions, to save their religion, themselves, and their families to a safe town, temporarily, until things would improve.
And by GOD, as if I see the Iraqis living the same condition now…. Some immigrated to save his religion from intrigue, for as much catastrophes and injustice he encountered, he feared he might one day doubt the justice of GOD, or HIS existence, so, he immigrated to a safe country, to save his faith in GOD. Some others immigrated to save themselves and families from harm, and still, others immigrated in fear for their money, and possessions…
I condole myself, giving myself the patience for leaving Baghdad, and all that I love in it, saying: “…And you might hate something, and it is for your own good…”, we might step out of our immigration with more knowledge, science, and experience, so that we may go back, and help build a new country, an independent, free country, a developed, democratic country, by all that we can give, without losing our roots, and identities…
The election results have not been announced fully yet. But there are some primary indications… if the Shia’at’s list has truly the majority of votes, then the Kurds, then others, like Ayyad Alaawi, then, these would be truly initial indications, from the region of reality. The conditions were excellent, and relatively quiet for the Shia’at Voters in the southern provinces, and for the Kurds in their provinces. So, logically, their nominated lists would have the priority in winning. As for other lists, like those of Ayyad Alaawi, Al-Yawer, and Al-Pachachi, they might get law percentages of votes, because they have no big majorities to support them, as is the case with the Shia’ats and the Kurds.
And the coming government is supposed to organize its affairs, so it would emerge as a homogenous mixture of all the colors that form the Iraqi People, (religions, sects, and ethnics), and I hope the leadership would be in the hands of honest, calm men and women, who would not choose violence and segregation as a method of dialogue, who love Iraq, and all its people, first, and last….and work for its benefit, first, and last.
I think Iraq needs another year, until the picture gets clearer. The new government faces a lot of challenges, like the security file, which is the most important issue that needs to be treated seriously, and logically, then there is the administrational corruption file, and putting logical solutions to stop it from spreading, and thus ruining the country, then there is the issue of writing the new constitution, then, lifting up the broken economy of the country, bringing life back to it, starting building the infrastructure projects of the country, (water, electricity, sewage lines,…), and all other related projects of schools and hospitals, in the far areas deprived of such services. Iraq is in need of a long term building and constructing plan, for tens of years, and is in need of the Iraqi’s expertise, giving them the priority in building their country, but there is also the need to have consultants, Arabs and foreigners, to help them in many fields…
This is how I see the future… improving the security condition is the first key to enter the future. Controlling the administrational corruption in the governmental system, and in other links responsible for implementing the work program for manufacturing Iraq’s new future, that is the second key… and after that, all doors shall be open easily, and safely, by the will of GOD.
The people are supposed to have elected this government, so they have the right to watch her, and question her for what promises they have fulfilled, in providing a good life for Iraqis…this is step No. 1 in the harvest of democracy. Democracy is not only voting boxes, papers, names, cameras, the press, and enthusiastic speeches. Democracy is a way of life, to be learned by people and governments, and a language of dialogue between the two sides.
I do wish Iraqis shall fare good from this new experience in their lives, and by the new faces that shall come to receive the responsibilities. Our hearts are tired, but they are still full with the hope that what is to come….shall be better than what has gone.
As for the occupation, there must be a withdrawal timetable to be scheduled during the few coming years.
I do believe in the concept that says: a hand building Iraq, and the other pushes the occupation out of it.
I read in a book titled: (Women and civil war), by an author named: Krishna Kumar, the book contains a study about societies, who had civil war in their countries, like Rwanda, Cambodia, Georgia, The Bosnia and Hertsigovnia, Guatemala, and El-Salvador. The dangers facing women are the same in all cases; fear for their families and children, from fighting, violence, even though they hide in the houses, then the harm and psychological scars that befall them, due to the loss of a member of the family, or evacuating them and their children to camps, the emotional threat, panic, and losing the feeling of security, then, the harsh accidents they might be subjected to during confrontations; for raping women was used clearly as a weapon, to force families to immigrate, and as ethnic elimination, as was the case against Muslims in Bosnia, and against women in Rwanda, in the ethnic conflict between the tribes there.
Then comes the issue of Treading with women, inside or outside of the family, and of course, these gangs are usually headed by evil men.
I am not against men in general, or am I provoking against them, but I see here clearly the difficulty and spatiality of the women’s position in times of wars and conflicts. Then, they might lose their husbands, so they would face a hard fate, for the family’s responsibility, and the children’s future would land on their shoulders. They will have to work in order to provide food on the table, and they would have to play of the mother and the father, to compensate for his absence from the family.
I find them crushed by the cruelty of life, in need of a helping hand to be stretched to them, for a better life, and to make it up to them, for what pains they have endured, by life’s harshness…….
I look at the Iraqi women, and see the same history, and the same pain, they have encountered it by the Iran war, losing husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons, and how they had to work to make up for losing their provider… then, the cruelty of life after the Kuwait war, the economic embargo, and how much it narrowed the chances of good living, so families had to sell their possessions; properties, lands, the, furniture. The woman endured a great deal of hunger, poverty, and injustice… and if the husband was unemployed, her suffering would be doubled if they had no other family income, and she couldn’t improve that situation. Or perhaps the husband would be an alcoholic, depleting the income by his follies. She might have to work as a house servant to provide for her children, or perhaps, some would have to sell their bodies, becoming loose women, especially those who are not educated, nor with any knowledge.
And after the last war, the same tragedies were repeated in society, by losing the family’s provider, by poverty, and need, and of course, the Fallujah families and some others were forced out from the clashing areas, to tents, mosques, and any skeletal buildings. Thank GOD, women were not violated physically by Iraqis, Thank GOD; nothing so ugly happened here, in spite of all the sect intrigues some wanted to ignite between us.
But the atrocities of Abu Ghareeb prison shocked us, and made us sad, and those were not committed by Iraqis.
But I see with a sad heart, some new satellite channels in the Gulf, whose dancers are mostly young Iraqi women, wearing transparent, revealing clothes, then I remember what the former book says, about the tread of women, and how it flourishes in times of wars. Those women are victims…who need someone to stop the treading of them, rehabilitate them, teaching them honest jobs, so they could live an honest life.
If I should open a file for Iraqi women and their needs, it could turn out to be with a beginning, but without an end…..
There is an issue that seems to make me wonder, and in doubt.
Why would some Iraqi or Arabic women debate the subject of “The Veil”, criticizing it, in the western media?
It is a critical and important issue, which should be discussed in our countries, to find out what is right from wrong. As to opening fire on the veil there, in the western newspapers, it is a kind of cowardice, and hypocrisy.
Why should I ‘tickle’ the feelings of the west, saying; you are better than us, and your culture is better?
Why don’t we discuss our subjects together, to get to a point? Like one family, which houses many different view points? Which is the wisest behavior? To spread our differences in front of the world, or to discuss them calmly, rationally, without hypocrisy, until we solve the problem, and get to a reasonable agreement.
Yes, in my opinion, a woman’s veil is needed, as a sign of respectability, and decency. I myself am wearing the veil, for some two years now, with my own, full conviction. It has never stood one day against my ambitions, or my career, nor has it influenced my personality or way of thinking, but I rather think it gave me more self confidence to move in a conservative society like ours.
The veil is connected with the nature of society, its history, culture, and a long heritage…that could not be easily ignored. But, we could discuss the style of that veil, its influence upon women, their way of thinking, their education, and their contributions in society. I do not like the veil that makes a woman looks like a tent, from top to bottom, or just like a creature from another planet, hiding from sight. The sight of a woman wearing a much exaggerated veil provokes astonishment in me, just like the sight of a woman wearing a much-revealing blouse, displaying most of her chest, half her back, and half her belly, including the belly-button. Huh… modern trends.
Both have exaggerated….. And the Prophet Mohammad (The Prayers of GOD Be upon Him, and His Peace) used to say: (Do not exaggerate…and do not go astray). This is how I understand religion, and the way of life. Do not deprive the woman from the sun and day light… and do not tread with her body. Both are doing her an injustice.
This is what I think, and I would like to discuss the matter with the Muslims first, as an issue concerning us, and our lives. I do not respect those who go to the western media to take cover there, then throw stones at Muslims.
Those are tricks with other purposes in mind…. And those, I do not like.
In our societies, girls and women wear the veil while in universities, schools, hospitals, and work offices, in public markets, streets, while driving cars, and they take their share in the public life, like men.
They join in political parties, organizations, humanitarian and social societies, and in non-governmental organizations.
I am talking about the Arab world in general…. I have seen the same scenes in Baghdad, here in Amman, in Damascus, and in Cairo. Veil was never an obstacle against the woman; I rather think it was a protection point for her, in conservative societies. She might have been deprived of education, or work, if she weren't veiled.
This is my view point in the subject. As to what points I see truly worthy of debate, well, points like giving the women their rights in some Arabic countries, like permitting her to drive a car, joining in societies and organizations in her town, participating in the municipal or national public elections, giving her bigger chances to education, and work, to develop herself, and her abilities, like opening educational centers to teach other languages besides Arabic, centers for computer and internet, and public libraries, where they can borrow and read books that are good to them…. Because they shall be raising the county's new generations.
I think such points are worthy of debate, and to be demanded, not on the pages of western newspapers, but on the pages of the concerned Arabic newspapers. That would be daring, and a struggle to free women from the bonds of stupidity, and backwardness… and not there, in the western countries, through their media, nor by standing and throwing stones at the east.
There is a phenomena much criticized by these women, and that is the increasing number of veiled woman in Iraq after the war. In the book I mentioned before there is an explanation to this phenomena…
When I was in Baghdad, I didn't comprehend that explanation clearly, it was somewhat ambiguous to me: the presence of a foreign occupation force, justifies the need for more decency for women, and to protect them from corruption. That was the idea in my mind. Then I understood the subject more from the book.
The author says; there was a clear phenomena in countries like Cambodia, who suffered from civil wars, then there were peace keeping forces from various countries, and remained for long years, and this created a class of fallen women in society (prostitutes), because of the big numbers of single men away from their countries!!
I smiled, and understood why the veil has increased among Iraqi women.
Perhaps by a personal wish, or by the parents request, (I do not like to use the words ' parent's pressure', for I do not like using such stinging expressions).
The sum of the matter is; I see in front of the women in Iraq, or in other Arabic and Islamic countries, a lot of issues worthy of debate, to open up the horizons of a shiny future for them, that could be accomplished without contradicting religion, or the veil.
Women deserve more attention, in order to guarantee an Arabic, Islamic generation equipped to face the challenges of life, and its difficulties. A generation able to create a new future, different of what we have seen, and suffered from….a shining, illuminated future, containing more truthfulness, success, and accomplishments, and an up-raising of our sad reality, to a more successful reality, with more power of influence…. A reality containing work, production, and economic, political, social, and cultural developments… one that would raise our statues among countries and nations to a new reality, that we deserve…
To a place where silly talk and worthless words would be the last things in our lives, not even to listen up to, because we would be busy with fruitful work, ambitions, and successful accomplishments........
That is the future I hope , for Iraq, and all Arabic and Islamic people.
Translated by May/ Baghdad.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


If you are Iraqi, you are either laughing or crying by now, if you are not Iraqi, dont ask me for explinations, its a long story:)) Posted by Hello

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