Right before we began releasing our videos on March 19th, I posted an mp3 on this blog of Saif and his friends Zaid and Ahmed playing an Iraqi folk song. That post generated a ton of dialogue and interest. I think it was the collective shock and excitement of seeing young Iraqis express themselves artistically. It was something that many people had never seen before. And that experience has been repeated many times throughout the last few weeks as we have released our videos.
I think that these moments of amazement - of epiphanies and revelations triggered by what we find online - are products of the power and reach of the internet. And if we, as citizens of the wired world, help spread these items of interest further, we can do a small part to decrease the alienation, disconnection, apathy and hostility that divide our world.
In that spirit, I wanted to point out a few examples of things making their way around the web.
First, Zaid (see “My Best Friend Zaid” and “Iraqi Man”) sent me the following five pictures over the weekend. I can’t give it a better intro than he did. He writes (I did light editing at his request):
There is a wall being created around my city of Al Ahdhamia to separate it from other places in Baghdad. They, the US Army and our Government, say it will help prevent fighting and bloodshed. But it is only creating another face of sectarianism.
The people of Al Ahdhamia rejected the wall but the US Army and our government finished it.
But the interesting thing is that artists have painted wonderful pictures on that wall. This Iraqi artist has never been known and I guess they only paint as a hobby. It is wonderful. Check it out and I hope you put it on our site hometownbaghdad.com along with some words of mine.
Update: These pictures are not of the wall in Ahdhamia. According to a reputable source: “These concrete walls are on Al-Sa’doon street, and they are there to protect a hotel called “Baghdad Hotel” which was a building for the CIA and then a residence for the members of the Iraq Governing Councel in 2003.” (Thanks, Ahmed!) I am still leaving Zaid’s words because I think his point about the wall in Ahdhamia is important and his excitement about the art is still valid and very real.
The second thing I’m linking to is a short documentary about Saif’s brother, Mohammed, who lives in Paris. Zaid linked to it in the comments but I thought it deserved getting pointed out again. Link. Mohammad is working on a few other projects that I will try to post here as they become available.
The third item is bound to be a bit controversial. It is a powerpoint slide show that Ausama sent me over the weekend and asked me to post. Some may see it as divisive but I hope that everyone can see that whoever created it was mainly motivated by two things: a) pride for his country; and b) sadness over the situation that has developed. See it here.