Now the FBI is telling schools: “Report students who criticize government policies as potential future terrorists.” (like speaking out against war?). Report those who “talk about travel to suspicious places” (like visiting your relatives, back home in Palestine, Iraq, Pakistan or wherever?), “Using private messaging apps” (Twitter Viber Chat Wickr Bleep? ). This has the smell of a police state that #Trump would probably applaud. The FBI repeatedly, but subtly, points at Muslims with examples pointing to religious differences and immigrant families.
This unscientific approach, when word inevitably gets out, will foment greater #Islamophobia, and will further alienate students who already feel discriminated against. If you are trying to radicalize a group of teenagers, this policy seems like a great help. @121Contact
In the U.S. there has been an uptick of anti-Islamic activity (including physical attacks), but there have been relatively few incidents.
Among our 319 million people there are a miniscule number carrying out attacks. Yes, yes, I know that automobiles are much more of a threat than terrorist attacks. There are many, however, who harbor mistrust, fear, and anger towards Muslims. Even so, over 60% of Americans are comfortable with having a Muslim President. This is a growing number, but the 40% who harbor anti-Islamic feelings is significant and damaging to all.
Countering the narratives of ISIS/Al Qaeda and the like is a good thing, but it avoids the deeper, more important facts of the case:
“radicalisation is a youth revolt against society, articulated on an Islamic religious narrative of jihad… These rebels without a cause find in jihad a “noble” and global cause, and are consequently instrumentalised by a radical organisation (Al Qaeda, ISIS), that has a strategic agenda.” [Dr. Olivier Roy]
Scientists have said it before and have been ignored. Scott Atran, among many others, has been talking about this for years. Radicalization a social problem of complexity beyond easy solutions, but it is not intractable. Its roots are in under-functioning societies/communities where the natural rebellious nature of youth is imperfectly channeled into less self-destructive behaviors.
A good start would be spending less for bombs. Spend more for compassionate, engaging education. Let children learn the truth about how our minds work and about how knee-jerk reactions defeat rational thought. Prejudice lives in all of us, even the most educated, but we don’t have to act on it. We can all learn to think about how we think, and move this world toward more peaceful tomorrows.
The past few months marked a tragic return to sectarian violence in Iraq not seen
since 2006-2007. Over 2,000 people died across the country since the start of
April, most in Baghdad, as al-Qaeda’s ugly footprint further crushed the spirit
of a population long weary of death.
Although Sunni, Shia, Turkomen, Christians, and Kurds are
targeted, it seems that al-Qaeda is targeting Shia more than any other group as
it piggybacks on the resentment of the Sunni community to Maliki’s uneven
handed government. The terrorists seek the disruption and dissolution of the
On Monday ten car bombs killed over 40 people in Baghdad
alone. Yesterday saw gunmen attack a church in the al-Amin neighborhood. Recently
one of the deadliest attacks saw 11 killed and 25 wounded when a suicide bomber
blew himself up inside a cafe packed with young people in the largely Shiite
neighborhood of al-Ameen in southeastern Baghdad. [Huffington
What lies ahead may be even worse. An annual target of terrorists is gathering in the Shia holy
city of Karbala. The Shabaniyah festival gathers tens of thousands marking the
birth of the Hidden Imam, a revered Shia leader. It has proved to be a targeted
environment in the past.
Part of Al-Qaeda’s master narrative is “the War on Islam”.
The narrative of this war has 5 major components and they are cleverly presented
to prospective jihadi recruits in widely varying formats including, but not
limited to: graphic novels, personal and classroom teacher/mentor training, speeches, private and public websites, and leaflets. The War on Islam narrative looks
1-The West plunders Muslim
2-Zionists (with great help
from their Western allies, mainly the U.S.)
brothers and sisters, steal Palestinian homes,
and steal Palestinian
livelihood, 3-American infidels drop
bombs on Muslim women and children, 4-Lies attack Islam, to make it weak, by manipulating people’s
ideas through media propaganda, and 5-The West wants a “moderate”
Islam, weakened by dilution, secularization,
Therefore: Muslims must take up the call to jihad and crush
the forces conspiring against the umma.
Suppose a young Muslim, perhaps a student, who believes these
5 points comes to you and indicates a strong desire to join the mujahedeen, and
become a fighter for ‘what is right.’
As this year comes to close I am filled, as every year-end, with thoughts of the past and thoughts of the future. 2011 looms before us like a giant basket of hope.
We cannot keep from admiring those young Iraqi adults who, just a few years ago, were schoolkids writing to their peers in the US. They were just kids interested as much in Jay-Z as much as in politics. Maybe more! Interested in klaicha and knishes, boy and girl friends, schools and horrible teachers.
What have they become? Those that have graduated are now doctors, lawyers, peace workers, teachers, language scholars, and more.
We kvell as if merely knowing them from afar gives us the right to feeling so very proud of these brave souls.
They stayed, and somehow kept thier focus. They studied, they conquered fear, and have won themselves a seat at the table of the future.
May they live in peace and continue to build what was so horribly crushed.
Sometimes I am stunned by the clarity of the words that come out of Iraq. Here is a concise view, held by many Iraqis, that puts the American troop occupation in perspective. It is not the most important factor in this man's life. He is more affected by the rise of Islamists in his previously secular nation.
He knows that the U.S. troops will leave sooner or later. He knows that the imposition of Islamist terror will keep his beloved Iraq from progress. He knows the violence will continue because of the puppet government we installed, and its bent toward violent suppression of dissent. And yet he is willing to open dialogue between his students and ours. Maybe we haven't driven all the hope out of Baghdad. b
i saw your blog and i like the idea. I am Iraqi professor, I will give your contact to my students.
i would like to ask americans why they
attacked us while iraqi had no role in 11th sept? And the terrorist who blowed
themself in innocents in USA and world wide were not Iraqi, most of them were
saudi and from egypt and UAE.
why america did not take revenge from saudi and
came to take revenge from poor iraqi people?
and they still till now.
question; after fall of saddam why modern america brought us islamists to govern
us and they convert us from modern secular state to islamic stupid state on
iranian model. they told us that they will bring us democracy and freedom but
they put us in big jail under stupid islamic parties who believe in stupid myths
and believe in killing language.
only that is iraq today under 2 occupation one
of them is USA military stupid occupation and the other is more dangerous which
is islamic iranian occupation. we may get rid of US army sooner or later but it is
very hard to get ride of iranian and islamic parties who threat by killing any
one who resist them-because they call him infidel so any one who refuse to
cooperate with islamists considered as enemy to god and you know what that is means.
that is the biggest not mentioned problem that america put us in and all americans should know it. we don't need democracy but we need secularism because by
secularism most of developed countries get their development.
-- Reported Security incidents, May 12, 2009:
Baghdad: #1: A mortar round hit the Green Zone at 5 a.m. Monday. No casualties were reported.
Taji: #1: A roadside bomb
targeted the Head of Sahwa in Taji area, northern Baghdad killing him
and injuring two civilians who were with him in the car. Some reports
said that they were his sons but Iraqi Police did not confirm it.
Diyala Prv: Khanaqin: #1: Six Iraqi
servicemen on Tuesday were wounded when an improvised explosive device
(IED) targeted their patrol vehicle near Baaquba city, according to a
local security source. “Today, an explosive device targeted an Iraqi
army infantry patrol in Naft Khana area of Khanaqin district (155 km
northeast of Baaquba), wounding six patrolmen,” the source told Aswat
al-Iraq news agency.
A roadside bomb
targeted an Iraqi Army foot patrol in the town of Naft Khana 120 km to
the northeast of Baquba at 1 p.m. Tuesday injuring six servicemen,
three of whom are in a critical condition.
Mandili: #1: The body
of a 13 year old girl who was kidnapped two days ago in the town of
Mendili was found by Iraqi Police Tuesday. She had been shot several
times. No ransom had been demanded.
Tikrit: #1: Fires on Tuesday
ate U.S. fuel tanker when a roadside bomb targeted a U.S. convoy north
of Tikrit city, said a source from Salah al-Din police. “The attack
took place on the highway, 5 km north of Tikrit,” the source told Aswat
al-Iraq news agency. “The destiny of the tanker’s driver is unknown,”
he said.The U.S. forces have not commented yet on this issue.
Kirkuk: #1: A suicide bomber
aboard a small pick-up truck slammed into an Iraqi police patrol in the
tense northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, killing six people and
injuring 14, police said. The attack in the southern district of the
oil rich city killed at least three policemen while three policemen
were also among the injured, local police major Salam Zangana said.
#2: A car bomb
went off on Monday targeting a police vehicle patrol in southern
Kirkuk, killing two civilians and injuring eight, the chief of the
Kirkuk police said. “A car crammed with explosives, parked near al-Adl
mosque in al-Asra neighborhood in southern Kirkuk, went off, killing
two civilians and injuring eight, including three policemen,” General
Tourhan Abdulrahman told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
Mosul: #1: A former
army officer was killed on Monday by unknown gunmen in northeastern
Mosul, a security source said. “Unknown gunmen killed a candidate of
al-Hadbaa list of the recent local elections when they shot him in
al-Muthanna neighborhood in northeastern Mosul,” the source told Aswat
al-Iraq news agency. “The victim, Rakan Aziz, a former army brigadier,
took part in the recent local elections held last January in he
province, but did nit succeed,” he added, noting that he was
assassinated while he was leaving al-Arqam mosque on Monday afternoon
#2: Gunmen killed a policeman in Suq Al-Maash neighborhood in Mosul while he was in his off-duty.
on foot opened fire upon the guards of the Governorate building in
Ghazi Street, central Mosul Monday morning killing one guard and
injuring another while they were on duty.
One of the teachers in Baghdad to participate in 121Contact disappeared one day. So let’s make believe this is true. That way I don’t have to change names to
protect the innocent. It’s all like fiction: too hard to believe anyway. It seems
we have been using wooden boxes to house prisoners since at least the Spring of
’05, but we are only hearing of it in our media now…
It was way back, let’s see, in the Spring of ‘05, when Haythem stopped
writing to us. He had been a mathematics teacher in a boys high school in a
relatively quiet neighborhood in Baghdad. Growing up on a farm across the river
in Diyala gave him a love of the countryside he never lost. After his capture
and release he fled there. His grandparents still live there.
In our early emails we joked about his bravery in keeping in touch with
Americans and steering his students in this direction of understanding the
invaders. He said he was the Lion of Baghdad, joking that such a thin man could
be so strong.
He was beloved by his students, and his tales of teaching were an early
lesson to me (my teacher-self) of how very much alike we all are; teacher and
student, Iraqi and American. I remember how vividly he wrote of his teaching
days…One email described a day he was fooling around with his students—shaking
a can of soda. Everyone in the class was laughing but then the headmaster opened
the door and entered the room. The soda can hissed quietly beneath Haythem’s
An instantaneous silence fell and the headmaster, scowling with hands on
hips said, “Who is making this noise here?”
No one answered. “You will come to my office,” he growled at Haythem, “when
this session is ended,” and he left, slamming the door behind him.
The faces of the students were sad. Their teacher and friend was going to be
in trouble. Slowly Haythem allowed a smile to come to his young face, and then
the students, one by one, smiled softly also. It would all be OK. It was always
thus. A scolding and then it would all be OK.
And one day he stopped writing. After months of emails he stopped and the
emails from his students to students in Brooklyn stopped also. I didn’t know
What happened to this young man? Why did he break off he relationships with
Americans? Why did he refuse to have anything to do with anyone who had
anything to do with Americans? Why were there rumors that he had joined the
mukawama to take part in the resistance army that vowed to kill all occupiers?
His last email to us:
I didn’t stop thinking of you
yesterday night as I was trying to write poetry. That was too difficult to do
one line as there are too [many] things in mind that I’m too busy with.
One of my students got killed a few
days ago. He is Ha’al. Do you remember when I told you that so as to give a
sense of humor I gonna divide my students into groups? I mentioned the fattest
one, he was Ha’al, one of my lovely students, always on the first desk, always
smiling and joking. I can’t understand how he died. I have read the black
banner in which they wrote his name and address. They made a funeral for him.
Myself I was lucky twice to be alive.
I came too late from Baghdad when I found the market of [my town] was shut. No
one was there but few Americans. In the darkness beside the police station I
felt strange. The bus driver refused to complete the way. He decided to go back
so he stopped in front of them. They were scared as they were attacked so they
started shouting [shooting] at the bus. When I got down, I was running, towards
the market, but I felt that my running is useless as the market is too long. So
I shouldn’t make them angry I decided to walk. I saw a few people running far
away, then they shout [shoot] at me. I decided to cross the street, to their
side. So they can’t see me, I would be behind the walls. When I arrived to the
bus station, I found someone got killed with the same bullets that shot at me.
My family was too worried about me and
I was in danger another time when I was standing on the wall of my brother’s
house watching an attack at night, when two Humvees came by and start shooting
at me, so I lied down in a very quick movement and waited them to leave.
Next day I found out that they killed
someone who was driving by.Anyway it
sounds normal to me, this is a part of my life, as Iraqi. Hope to be in a good
And he never wrote to me again. Here is what I could piece together from
friends of his:
He was in the street with a Spanish journalist when there was an explosion.
The soldiers came quickly and rounded up all the men in the area. They took
them to [Abu Ghraid?]; all under arrest. He told them he was an interpreter for
the journalist, but they didn’t believe him. The journalist was released and
Haythem was held for 10 days. They put him in a wooden box, for days, without food.
After 10 days he was released, angry. He said, “Why did they release the
journalist? Why didn’t they believe me?” He was totally wounded, angry. He
spoke to the other teachers in the 121Contact program and said they should
break relationships with the American students and teachers. The Americans are
evil. There is no sense to doing what any of them ask of us. It would not do
anything for Iraq but only help the Americans.
So this man of peace, who bravely kept himself and his students in touch with
Americans in order to help each understand ‘the other’ was converted. Converted
by cruelty. Converted by the incredible-made-credible horrors of a violent
A man of peace converted to…we are not sure what direction he took. Perhaps
he has become a man of violence willing to kill the occupier rather than sit
quiet and see his nation destroyed, a member of the Mukawama? A logic born of
Perhaps he has become one of the pathetically depressed Iraqis, unable to
take care of themselves. A life devoid of logic in the face of the insanity of
Perhaps, perhaps,…who knows?
Does he still live? We don’t know. I hope someday to meet him, to kiss his
face, and see him live finally in peace. Inshallah.
Untitled Aug .2004
By the Lion of Baghdad
Deeply we think, “Why is the dream gone?”
Why is peace just a word if the war is done?
Why is the white now black, and the dark is light?
Why is love a fish with the teeth of a shark?
Why is the dove a snake and the lake is of blood?
And the rose is a thorn that cuts the butterflies?
Deeply we shout, “Do you have replies?”
Deeply we dive into the ocean of grief.
With the pain inside the death of relief.
How proud is he?
How brave is he, the commander in chief?
Deeply we ask, “How does happiness taste?”
How can hope be smelled, and love be painted?
Deeply, at home, the is oil located.
Shall we change the land or change the fate?
We wait for time. We have to wait.
Waiting for time the we catch the train,
That will take us to the place where we are not insane.
What does it mean to leave everything in your life behind except your wife and children?
After RAKA's brother was killed he was told that if he didn't leave he would be killed also. He managed to get to Jordan with his wife and children unharmed. They chose to leave everything they knew behind them in order to keep living.
The bond between good, caring teachers and their students is strong.
The loss of contact with them is only one part of the pain of
separation, but it is as real as any other. Here is RAKA's letter to his beloved students, written soon after he arrived in Jordan.
Dear Students, brothers and sisters,
I am sorry to have left you without saying good-bye. But such being our
lives: so fickle, so shadowy. You remember Macbeth's lines:
After the death of my brother, we thought it was
everything. There was a strong urge from my family and friends that I leave the
country. However, I was thinking of the good things that I have in Iraq: my
family, my friends, my teachers, my colleagues and last but not least my
students that I have always been thinking of as friends and brothers that are
in need for help, advice, guidance and a good word that would keep them on the
right path. In this regard, and thanks to modern technology, I would like to
tell you that I am not so far from you. Yes, I am abroad, but I am keeping a
close look at you and I follow up your news. I have always been willing to stay
among you, but there are bad people who do not like you to progress and
prosper. As such, I earnestly call upon you to tend a little bit to yourselves,
to see yourselves as students, real students who are worthy of success. I am
abroad today and I am so much pained by what I see around me, not out of envy,
but out of woe. I see the students in the Arab countries progressing and edging
their way in life confidently and proudly. I look back at you and feel a strong
sense of pity for what you are. Think of yourselves as translators and
interpreters who are going to contribute to the good of your country. Do not be
involved in material gain while forget your lessons and what you are. Money is
luring and work is tempting. This is a fact of life. Though, you have to reckon
that you are students, still young, and the whole future is ahead of you, just
wait and prepare yourselves for the good chances ahead.
You can make your life meaningful and, opposite to
Macbeth, worthy of living and signifying a lot. The chances you have are better
than ours are and the resources at your hands are more copious than what we
used to have when we were students, sometimes not able to find a dictionary.
With translation, there are so many opportunities and chances that are waiting
for you; but never be tempted by those dirty people, who are killing our folk
and destroying our home.
Pay due respect to each other and to those who are
there to help you: your teachers. Help each other, pray for the good of the
whole country, and never forget that Allah, the Prophet and the good men, both
dead and alive, are all watching us.
I am sure that the foam of the sea will never last
long, and that the waves of good hope will wash out the solid rocks of despair.
I wish you all the best and safe life… Sincerely Yours,
I was watching Bush's speech today on the TV. It was interrupted by all but one channel when the top of the hour was reached. Evidently the timely start of the afternoon soap operas was more important to the networks than the words of the President of the United States. Perhaps they are tired of the same old lies.
I thought this noteworthy and called Wahid, a Baghdad teacher, to talk to him of this insult to the President. When I heard the tension in his voice I shut up and just listened... --- It is bad in the neighborhood. It is bad for 3 days now. My friend came to visit and then went home. He called me and told me his house was robbed. All the doors were broken. Many things were stolen. The neighbors told him that they saw many men carrying things. They think it was the National Guard, but who can know who they are?
The last 3 days were hot in my neighborhood, too. No one walks in the street. When I got to the internet cafe only 4 people were there. All are teachers trying to print their exams. (This is the week of exams, even though most schools have limited attendance.) We could not print them because the connection is so bad. --- Yesterday I was at school and someone told me "Your neighborhood is very hot." I called my sister at home and she told me that gunmen were in the neighborhood and they came to shoot randomly. You know today we are putting signs on houses. When someone is killed there is a sign, by the family, that the person was killed; by a bullet, or by a bomb, whatever, to let people will know. Today I went to get medicine and I saw there were 2 or 3 new signs. I saw one of a young man, I think 20 or so years. He is a friend of my younger brother. He was executed. He was using a cell phone when the shooters came. They beat him and then they killed him. Why is this?
I have to tell you this. Yesterday, in the evening, I hid behind the washing machine to tease my little niece. I made the voice of a cat. She looked all over but could not find me. She said to her mother, "Mom, there is a dog making the voice of a cat!" I love her so much. She always...
And then the call ended as abruptly as always. In the middle of a
conversation. In the middle of an occupation that continues to take the
lives of so many innocent civilians, and continues to crush the lives
of those who live.