Sunday, July 17, 2005
The In T View: Iraq The Model's Mohammed Fadhil: He's Got The Big Mo Going!
He's got the "Big Mo Going!"
Iraq The Model's Mohammed Fadhil is Burning up the Iraqi Blogosphere with his Lucid Insights into Iraq's Affairs, Terrorism, Politics, and the March to Democracy. Together with his Blogging Superstar Brother Omar, the two of them have established Iraq The Model as the Dominant Iraqi
Blog and a Must Read amongst the Millions of Blogs around the planet.
It's The In T View: Iraq The Model's Mohammed Fadhil: He's
Got The Big Mo Going!
The In T View By MG - Artwork By DC.
MG: So Mohammed, have you gone to the Mountain or has the Mountain come to you?
Mohammed: I think I was always on a date with the mountain and we were never far away from each other.
MG: What's the Status of Gay Rights in Iraq? Will there be a Gay Pride Parade in Baghdad anytime soon?
Mohammed: Actually religion and traditions don't give gays any rights and homosexuality is considered a sin and a perversion that is against nature. However, some Islamic recent fatwas justified sex-change overriding what's considered a controversial issue in many other places. A gay pride parade will take probably
a light-year to happen; I know that light-years are used to measure distances but I couldn't find any other unit to measure the time needed here!
MG: And is the Moslem World ready for a Lesbian Film Festival?
Mohammed: Again, a light-year will pass before this happens!
MG: Mohammed, like many Iraqis these days, you've seen Death Up Close and Personal. Do the Images Haunt your Thoughts for a while? Do you say a silent Prayer, thankful that you're still alive?
Mohammed: I always expected an unnatural death, and I'm really afraid of a natural one; that's the last way I want my life to end in.
MG: Your first name is a pretty common one in the Middle East. Do you ever find yourself in a crowded room responding when someone calls out "Hey Mohammed!" and then thirty people named Mohammed say, "Hi Abdullah?"
Mohammed: This happened quite a lot of times and because one of my friends has the same last name too, our friends decided to call us the "short" and the "tall". I was the short guy of course as the other guy was a basket ball player. It wasn't fair
MG: Mohammed, What's your Favorite Snack Food, and don't say Pringles, or we end the In T View, right here?
Mohammed: I like nuts, especially almonds but I have to say that I like Pringles too! (MG Says: Noooo, Pringles, the Devil's Snack Food!)
MG: So Mohammed, what's a Real Good Meal to you?
Mohammed: The best meal would be one I make with friends on a picnic. Nothing can be as good as a meal you cook with bunch of close friends.
MG: Have you ever had Fried Clams?
Mohammed: I have no idea what that is but I like "Maskoof" and the most delicious maskoof (fish barbequed in a special way) is Shabbout which is a kind of fish that lives in the Tigris. (MG Says: Mohammed hasn't experienced true culinary delight until he's tried fried clams, and not just those skimpy neck portions, but the full belly and all!)
MG: Mohammed, you're a very good Diarist. I noticed that from reading the excerpts at Iraq the Model of your War Diaries. Have you kept a Diary throughout your life and how did you keep it hidden from other family members?
Mohammed: I have always kept a diary and they were in several notebooks but I had a tradition that after each 'love story' I would give the part of my diaries to the woman I was in love with because she's the owner of that part of time. Except for the war time and the year before that because that time was mine alone. I still keep my drawers locked when I'm out. I have stopped writing diaries after April 15, 2003 but the blog has been a good alternative as I can write anything I like on it.
MG: Mohammed, why are you still single?
Mohammed: Who told you that I'm single? Don't believe everything being said on ITM! There has been always a woman occupying my heart but we in Iraq are used to say "single" to describe anyone who's not married and we don't consider someone in a relationship as "engaged" or "occupied". I do plan to start a family, but right now I don't think there's a woman who can tolerate me with all my crazy busy days.
MG: Mohammed, if you had your choice of spending your last $10 dollars American on either Birth Control or Beer, what would you choose?
Mohammed: Is there any red wine on the menu?
MG: Let's talk about a difficult period in your life, about six or seven years back, when you "refused to serve in Saddam's army" and gave up your job. What were your thoughts at the time? Did your actions endanger the other members of the Fadhil Family? Were you scared? Did you go into hiding? Did you think of Leaving Iraq?
Mohammed: I told my family and friends that I decided to not serve in the military because God would not like to see me do that service. I wouldn't be part of an army that oppresses people and harms innocents. They thought I wasn't serious about it because being a runaway meant being paralyzed and being chased
by Ba'athists and military police everywhere, let alone losing one's job. At Saddam's time every Iraqi male was asked for military service documents in all kinds of work and in every government office even if that was something like marriage or buying a car or making any kind of business with any government department.
But I made the decision a long time before I had to face the situation on the day when I was called to do the service. Of course my family didn't want to have their home raided in the middle of the night and have to deal with a gang of bad guys
and this had actually happened once when someone from the neighborhood reported my brother Ali to the Ba'athists and they sent the military police to our home but fortunately he wasn't there and my father solved it temporarily by signing a commitment to turn him in when he returns home.
Living in a moment of fear was what we have chosen for our home but the family showed a lot of understanding and I'm thankful for that. I even tried once to flee from Iraq with a forged passport but the guy who was arranging the process got arrested and I lost a lot of money as I paid half of the cost in advance. Yes, I was scared during the 1st year and I was carrying a lot of worries while walking in the street and I limited my movement to a great \extent and I spent long times at home.
Later I gradually learnt how to walk in the street and look confident when I walk through checkpoints by changing the expressions on my face to look fearless (military police target guys who look weak and it really was an "eyes" challenge and bluffing skills were of great importance). didn't disappear and decided that I should resume my "normal" movement but I couldn't get out of Baghdad because it's almost impossible
to get through all the checkpoints without being discovered. Anyway, this era was a good chance for reading many books.
MG: A Giant Monorail all across Baghdad: Yes or No?
MG: What Book that you've read, has had the Most Influence on your Life?
Mohammed: "the ridicule of the human mind" from the brilliant Ali Al-Wardi. That book taught me how tolerate others' opinions and look at the other side of the image and respect pluralism.That book changed many things in me; I was 23, ambitious and reckless but the book helped build a rather moderate personality and give myself some time to think and…rethink.
MG: Mohammed, we don't know too much about Mom and Pop Fadhil. What are they really like? What's special about your parents? And are they proud of their three sons, two of them dentists and the other one a doctor?
Mohammed: I have great parents; my father is a retired officer since 1990 and my mother is a retired teacher since 1990 too. We were raised and still living middle class more or less but my parents were trying hard to provide us with everything we
needed and I remember when we were kids, we always had toys and stuff before our friends did.
They're both 63 now. I'm really grateful for that they encouraged us to read and love reading. My father is fond of his library which he updates continuously and he encouraged me to build my own library. He never told us what to read and gave us full freedom in choosing what we read and this is something pretty rare in a protective oriental society. I also remember that my mother used to bring us stories when
we were kids and she always brought us new stories every other while and here where the family love for reading started; every one of us has his own library. And yes, they're proud of us!
MG: And what about your Grandparents? Are any of them still living?
Mohammed: Unfortunately, none of them is still alive and the only grandparent I got to see was my father's father who I had a special relationship with and I respected him a lot. He was an illiterate farmer but he didn't let that reflect on his children and he insisted that they get their chance to get decent education and actually most of them were able to get college degrees. He died in 1996 and I was very sad then as his death also coincided with other failures I faced on the personal level.
MG: When you were growing up, did your Grandfather sit you down on his knee and say, "Mo, when I was your age, I was racing Camels Bareback with the Bedouins and fighting the Nazis with my Bare Hands?
Mohammed: He didn't fight the Nazis or anyone else; he lived far in his farm but he did hate the Ba'ath party. He had enormous love for palm trees and I inherited that love from him; we have 8 palm trees in our garden and I'm the one taking full
care of them. I hope that one day palm trees fill the Iraqi desert; it's a tough tree that has a special kind of pride; it has very long roots and can reach water no matter how deep it was and it doesn't wait for someone to bring the water. I
remember my grandfather once while he was planting a young palm tree; he felt that I was thinking like "it's going to take at least 10 years before this small tree grows dates and probably he won't be alive by then" and I remember him answering my
unvoiced thought by the old Iraqi saying "they planted, we ate and we shall plant so that they will eat". I learned the lesson well.
MG: And speaking of the Bedouins, when you were on Vaccination Duty, you got to meet them scattered about in the Iraqi Desert. How was that Experience for you?
Mohammed: It was an interesting experience actually, when a Bedouin sees you from far away (they have very sharp eyes by the way) he would pick up his rifle and stand on guard so we stop at a reasonable distance from his place and identify ourselves and once Bedouins realizethat we're doctors they rush to welcome us and offer us water as they know that we must be thirsty from the long ride through the desert. They're generous people and they'd insist to invite you for a meal with them.
They've begun to understand the importance of vaccinations but they're still suspicious about strangers as they are used to live away from towns and their contacts with town people are very rare.
In general they don't have IDs and they don't register themselves on population charts and in some cases one of them would come to the town hall to register his marriage and get IDs for himself, his wife and his six children! And they usually don't do that unless they need such documents urgently. They don't settle in one place for a long time and they move in the western and south western desert with
their cattle following grass and water so we find ourselves running after them from place to another. Anyway, their way of living and their appreciation for freedom are impressive and I think it'd be an adventure to try their way of life for a while.
MG: So, how did you decide to become a Dentist?
Mohammed: I first went to the College of Medicine but the study was too tough for me and I didn't succeed at it so I decided to move to the College of Dentistry as an easier alternative that keeps me in the field of treating people. I frankly didn't like it in the 1st two years but when I treated my 1st patient in 4th year I started to love the career and I still get a great feeling of happiness when I finish treating any patient successfully.
MG: What is it like being a Dentist in a Small Village like Samawa as opposed to a Big City like Baghdad?
Mohammed: Life in the village is fun and boring at the same time; the human nature out there and the uncomplicated way of life is charming and being a dentist in a small community makes you feel special and that satisfies one's ego! As to social activities, they cannot be compared with the situation in Baghdad. Another thing is that before Internet entered the village I felt much more comfy because being there gave me a chance to stay away from the noise of the city, news and Internet work so it's a time for me alone but after the Internet reached the village things changed and I felt like I lost the privacy I enjoyed in my small island.
MG: Mohammed, are you the Sexiest of the Fadhil Brothers? Do you have the Best Rap with the Iraqi Hotties or even the Non-Iraqi Hotties?
Mohammed: Some women say so but not all of them. I guess women are the same regardless of place and what they like in a man doesn't change from one country to another. And yes, I left a good impression among Iraqi and non-Iraqi women. LOL
MG: Mohammed, a Little Birdy told me that Some Insane Male Liberal Types Pretending to be Women have Targeted Various Iraqi Bloggers with Proposals of Marriage in order to entrap the Iraqi Bloggers and learn if they've been funded by the U.S Government or Organizations, and whether the Iraqi Bloggers are actually based in Iraq. Has this happened to you?
Mohammed: It's sick (if true) and No, it never happened to me.
MG: Mohammed, Omar mentioned that it was your idea to name the Blog: Iraq The Model". Why did you choose that Title as opposed to something like: "Iraq: Who's Your Daddy, Mideast" or "Iraq:
Well, Hey It's A Start" or "Iraq: Three Mercedes For Every Household?"
Mohammed: I believe that Iraq IS a model for other nations, the world is about to witness dramatic changes and despite the tactical/technical mistakes committed by some of the involved parties, we're still building a new model in the Middle East and I don't think it's going to take too long before others start regarding Iraq as a model that's worth following.
I also believe that the sacrifices associated with the Iraqi experiment on the way to the future will make similar future changes in the region require less sacrifices. We're drawing a path for our neighbors which may not look tempting at the moment but with time I'm sure they'll consider taking that path.
MG: Do you have any Blogs you like to read and can Recommend?
Mohammed: I usually read from the blogroll we have on the side bar and I especially enjoy reading the new Iraqi blogs that are written in Arabic; they have posts of very good quality and reading them keeps me in touch with the various parts of my country.
MG: Mohammed, We have to talk a bit about a Terse Subject: "Spirit Of America" (SOA). Whose idea was the Arabic Blogging Tool, and was it necessary?
Mohammed: I think this is a good question because many people are questioning the significance of such a tool. Actually the answer is quite simple; this tool is the only blogging service that has an exclusively Arabic interface and it's basically designed for Arabic users who know no English at all (and they're so many). Actually I've met many Iraqi thinkers and authors who don't know English but their writings in Arabic are excellent and such people are the target of this tool. Moreover, the tool allows users to upload images, audio and video files with extremely simple steps. Anyway, I guess what testifies for this tool is the magnitude of utilization; so far, more than 500 accounts were opened from Iraq and other countries and this number exceeds the total number of Arabic blogs using all other blog services like Blogspot or Typed!
MG: Let's talk about Your Political Candidacy in the recent Iraqi Election with the Iraqi Pro Democracy Party. What was your involvement in the formation of the Pro Democracy Party? What Factors Mitigated Against/Prevented your Party and its Candidates from gaining a seat in the Iraqi Legislature? What was it like campaigning? And is Politics in your Blood now, and will you be Running for Office again?
Mohammed: Our party was formed immediately after the fall of Saddam's regime and like many other new parties, our party was the result of long discussions and thinking that took place long before March 2003. During the 1st elections in Iraq, I was the secretary of the party and our party included a good number of intellectuals (mainly my generation) and they all believe in a free, democratic, secular and federal Iraq where all citizens are equal in rights and duties. We didn't expect much in these elections and our main goal wasparticipation to prove to the world that Iraq
is ready for a serious political process. We had more than a hundred parties and more than 7200 candidates taking part in the elections and that was great. Only 10% of those parties won seats in the assembly and those were parties with long history and good experience and actually some parties proposed an alliance with our party but
we refused these offers and I think that was a mistake.
Now we're considering the idea again and contacts are underway for the next round of elections and we're looking forward to forming an alliance that can really compete with other big parties. Actually I still see our results in the elections as positive
results because we were able to get 1600 votes (same result of the National emocratic party, led by Nasir Chadarchi, a former GC member and a famous political figure) in spite of the rare resources we had for campaigning and the short time we had to
prepare an electoral campaign.In my opinion, it wasn't a fair competition but we're looking forward for the future. We were traveling from one province to another and our volunteers were hanging posters and signs in the streets; it was a crazy time
with tons of e mails and phone calls to the supporters and friends.
It was a very tough mission amid many threats from the terrorists to everyone taking part in the elections but I'm very happy I had that experience.We weren't afraid and we challenged terror and I believe the elections were a victory for Iraq as a whole. I honestly wasn't concerned about our party's results as much as I was concerned about the process as a whole. I cried when I watched the crowds lining up for the ballots and voting for Iraq. It was a very special day in my entire life and no words can really describe what the feelings were.
MG: Mohammed, Do you still visit your Garden each day to have Tea? Is it a Very Relaxing Experience, or are the Damn Mosquitoes always water skiing in your cup?
Mohammed: Yes, I still sit in the garden every afternoon in the shade of my two favorite palms. It's there where most of the ideas are born in my mind and I usually use this time to think about the current day and about tomorrow.
MG: Mohammed, I sense the Iraqis are a Fun Bunch of People who like to Smoke, Drink, Chase Broads, and Drive Fast like the rest of us. Is this perception an accurate one?
Mohammed: It's not far from accurate but I personally hate speeding and my friends call me the "old man" because of the way I hold the steering wheel when I drive!
MG: Thanks Very Much, Mohammed, for a Nice Interview, and Final Question: Have You Ever Seen A Ghost?
Mohammed: Absolutely, and that's how I learned how to walk through walls.