Saturday, May 03, 2008

Voices from Iraq

Sami Rasouli, Michelle Naar Obed and Murtadha al-Tameemi. Photo by Chris Van House

By Chris Van House Duluth East High School Student
Three voices resonated in the Peace Church on Friday April 4 in an attempt to inform people of the madness and chaos that is currently taking place in Iraq. Approximately 30 people gathered to hear firsthand accounts of Murtadha al-Tameemi, an exchange student from Iraq at Harbor City International School, Sami Rasouli, an Iraq citizen and Muslim Peacemaker Team member who has recently begun traveling around the state and talking about the Iraq War, and Michelle Naar Obed, a Christian Peacemaker Team member, who has visited Iraq numerous times and has seen the chaos that is taking place there.

All three speakers seemed to agree that the general population of the United States is being misinformed about how serious the situation in Iraq really is. Many people feel that having the United States military in Iraq is helping to calm and restore order there. However, Sami Rasouli said that having the U.S. in Iraq is only causing more chaos and violence and the United States along with many of its citizens do not realize that Iraq is more than capable of governing itself.
How can we stop what is going on in Iraq in Duluth? Murtahda, Sami and Michelle all said that we cannot wait around for the U.S. government to do something. Instead, we as citizens must do something to stop the violence and suffering that is taking place in Iraq. A popular suggestion was that Duluth should start a sister city with a city or town in Iraq which would help familiarize and unite citizens of both countries.

Whatever we do we must do quickly because for every day that we wait more and more innocent people die. Someone must stop this senseless war, and it won’t be the government. It has to be us.

Post script- Michelle Naar Obed has since returned with the Christian Peacemaking Team to Suleimaniya, Iraq where they are attempting to establish a continuous presence working with the people who live there. As part of their work, they will be looking into various methods of developing people to people contact between the citizens of Iraq and Duluth. One possibility would be to connect a youth group from Duluth with a youth group in an Iraqi city to share perspectives from two different sides of our world.
Michelle writes, “We have to go beyond just delivering bad news over and over. We have to move forward with something. I’d like to be able to come home next time with some kind of community building idea and not just more bad news about the war and U.S. foreign policy.”
(Chris Van House is a 10th grader at Duluth East High School)