Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Media & Iraqi Bloggers

No one now can deny the role of the media in people’s daily life. The media became the centre of belief or disbelief regarding all topics. However, in the previous months I noticed (heard and read on more than one occasion) how western media, American and British in particular, is taking more interest in Iraqi bloggers and Iraqi blogs. The interest was not limited to publishing an article about the Iraqi X blogger or the Y blog, but it has extended to include bloggers being interviewed on the phone or a bloggers receives an email from newspaper or a magazine journalist, and/or radio stations hosts. It did not stop to that, there are some media sources who succeeded in hiring bloggers by offering some Iraqi bloggers fees for their writings, which varies between a hundred and five hundred (or maybe more or fixed price), depending on some conditions and obligations.

The interest of the media, such as the likes of the BBC (which happens to show a lot of interest in Iraqi bloggers recently) is not new; the famous blog of Raed before and during the 2003 war and the invasion is a good example of the amount of attention an Iraqi blog can attract. Since then, a lot have been written on blogs and bloggers, People from all over the world began sharing and posting comments on current events and thoughts published by Iraqi bloggers, commercial and non-commercial organizations and even governments started to follow up on what Iraqi bloggers’ latest entries (and sometimes encourage them directly or indirectly), all to serve certain own interest, or shall I say “exploit” those who write from the location where hot events are taking place.

The intention of the media remains vague, in my opinion; because some took Iraqi bloggers for granted as the perfect source for their news reports in their fierce competition with other news channels and political circles! On the other hand, I don’t want to sound suspicious and doubt any approach made by the media towards Iraqi bloggers. Maybe this will help to show the whole world what really is going on in Iraq - away from programmable propaganda to serve the interest of that side or the other.

A very dear friend of mine once told me – where I see where her remark is referring to, she said: “It is an attempt to have full control over someone’s thoughts and mind by censoring the blogger’s work, removing what they don’t like and agree on things they see suit with their interest as a publisher or news channel” Maybe she is right, but it is not always the case!

Probably, the media want to grab the interest of ordinary people in the different countries towards Iraqi bloggers’ daily thoughts, their perception of events around them and their own and personal opinion regarding what really is happening in Iraq and the world generally. It can be considered a great opportunity for Iraqis to promote their culture, their traditions, their way of thinking, to tell about the good and the bad within their society and how politics in old and new Iraq has been run and by whom, especially after years of isolation caused by sanctions and oppression by former regime, and now under the US occupation.

I don’t deny my happiness and support when I see, for example, the BBC is publishing or talking about bloggers such as Iraqi Rocker or Chikitita or Anarki-13. It fills my heart with joy and pride!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Quran in the Heart of Amsterdam

Paying for public transport in the Netherlands is a little bit different than some other countries. Instead of paying cash money or with a bank card directly to the bus or tram or metro driver, you have to buy from any stationary or cigarette shops, or station what is called a "strippenkaart". It is a sort of a ticket with numbers from 1 to 15 (some are to 32), depends on the distance these numbers will be stamped on by the driver, and can be used for a certain time and not limited to certain type of transport.

Around 10am today I had to go to work using public transport, which means that I should buy a “strippenkaart”. I passed by a shop that sells souvenirs for tourists (among other things like sweets, cigarettes, or drinks). I did not believe what I was hearing first, but when I was inside the shop and stood near one of the speakers handing above the entrance of the shop I was certain that Quran verses were recited, played from a CD or a cassette player somewhere in that shop. Then I saw a young man with a glasses standing in the middle of the shop, turning around and organizing goods quietly, while holding a white/colored mug (morning coffee or tea). His Egyptian or North African looks encouraged me to ask in Arabic instead of Dutch. With an apology he told me that another shop sell “strippenkaart” on the other bloke, so I thanked him and left the shop.

The picture of the young man, drinking his morning coffee or tea, with the Quran heard through the speakers reminded me of the old days in Baghdad when taxis, small buses traveling between provinces, and sometimes bakeries used to put a cassette of Quran in the very early morning, around dawn time.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I am Back

Hello everyone, I am back to Amsterdam yesterday evening!

It is never too late, but I wish you all happy 2007, especially for Iraq and the Iraqis.

May peace, love and happiness be the basis for starting a new year till forever.