Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The In T View: Baghdad Treasure, Iraqi Journalist And Blogger

Iraqi journalist and blogger Baghdad Treasure answers Mister Ghost's questions thoughtfully and openly, a man willing to speak his mind, regardless of the costs. And is that not what a citizen of the New "Democratic" Iraq should be? Silent no more, proud to let the world know where they stand, without fear or reprisal. A free press in Iraq, a free society, and citizens like Baghdad Treasure unhesitatingly confronting life's issues...

MG: Baghdad Treasure, Welcome to the In T View. Can you tell us about yourself?

Baghdad Treasure: I am an average Iraqi citizen lives in Baghdad and went through hard times of three wars and 12-year sanctions. I am a reporter with one of the most famous and influential newspapers in the world. I chose this job to help my country in revealing the truth and making myself a productive and influential part in the Iraqi society.

MG: How did you become interested in blogging and what was the genesis of your Blog: Baghdad Treasure ?

Baghdad Treasure: The first time I heard of blogging was through an article published in the Washington Post. The article talked about how blogging in Iraq is incredibly increasing after the U.S.-led war in 2003. Among those interviewed was An Average Iraqi who becomes one of my favorite blog friends.

MG: Then, you suddenly stopped blogging. Could you tell us why?

Baghdad Treasure: For a long time, I was really impressed by the way the bloggers tried to make a change in the world. But I discovered that this is not completely true. Maybe 10 percent of the blogs in allover the world can make a difference while the others are trying to do something but in vain. I know mine is included in this 10%. Until now, there are people who want to listen to what they believe and that's it. They don't want to hear opinions of others. If what is written matches their beliefs, they praise the author and if not, they curse him or her and sometimes insult them. That's what happened to me. So, I decided that these people do not deserve the effort I am doing and said it is better to find another way to be helpful. But then I thought of the other readers, whose goal is to get the truth, no matter how bitter it is. And for them, and for the truth to be revealed, I decided to continue.

MG: And now you've resumed blogging, what made you change your mind?

Baghdad Treasure: What changed my mind was what happened to one of my best friends in this world, Jill Carroll. She was my muse. She was the very first person who told me what journalism and being a reporter mean. So, I thought writing about her is my task to make people understand how a great journalist this kidnapped friend is.

MG: Your Friend and colleague American journalist, Jill Carroll, was kidnapped on January 7th in Baghdad. She was abducted within "300 yards of the office" of prominent Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaimi, mysteriously absent from an appointment that had been set up with Jill. Can you comment on the speculation that al-Dulaimi or someone in his office allegedly set up Ms. Carroll?

Baghdad Treasure: I don't think Dulaimi is involved personally. Also, I don't believe Jill would go to that neighborhood without a pre-set up appointment. That appointment was behind the killing of Allan, the interpreter, and her kidnapping. Whoever kidnapped her might sold her to a gang who sells hostages to Qaeda or someone else.

MG: Why was she kidnapped? There was obviously a message in it and that message was?

Baghdad Treasure: These criminals, mostly foreigners, want to turn Iraq into Afghanistan under Talaban. A colleague of mine always says this is the ? New Talabanization of Iraq?. They want to make all women wear scarves and men grow beards and carry weapons in a country that used to be secular and cosmopolitan. They want to kill the civilization in this ancient country. And I think they are succeeding gradually. That?s why most of the educated people are suffering. They are being killed one after the other. Immigration is increasing because no one is able to stop these criminals. The Iraqi government and its weak security forces cannot protect themselves and the American forces are doing their best to get rid of them but still. These criminals are increasing and becoming stronger day after day. Now, journalists are writing about all the above. The first message any journalist would get from the kidnapping of Jill is "be careful and leave, or you will be next."

MG: Is she like a big sister to you? Can you share a memory of her with us?

Baghdad Treasure: Jill is more than a sister to me. She is a sister, a teacher, a friend, and a muse. I am always inspired by her courage and nobility and love of life. I cannot forget the first day I worked with her when she was working for the Jordan Times in 2003. That day was my birthday, the last day in college, and the day when Uday and Qusay [Saddam?s sons] were killed. It was the very first day I work with a westerner. One of the nice times we spent together was when we had a farewell party to J, my friend and colleague. At dinner, Jill was present and she was sitting next to me. We talked, joked and laughed for a long time. She was speaking Egyptian Arabic as I requested so she could practice her Arabic as much as she can. Whenever I finished my glass of wine, she refilled it over and over. ?Yallah, Yallah. "You are happy? " she said, while we were having a great time along with J and O, my friends.

MG: Is there something you would like to say to her right now?

Baghdad Treasure: I would like to say,"Jill, I miss you and I am praying for you day and night. I'm proud of you and your bravery. I wish I can do something to free you."

MG: Another colleague of yours, Iraqi Journalist Allan Enwiyah, 32 serving as an interpreter for Jill was also abducted with her and found dead, "shot twice in the head..." Can you tell us about Allan? I understand he was a good man?

Baghdad Treasure: Allan was a very good man. The first thing I heard about him was when I was in college before the U.S.-led invasion. He had a very famous CD music store in a high scale neighborhood in Baghdad. I used to hear about him since then. One day, I was surprised when he worked as an interpreter for Jill. So, that's how I met him the first time, through Jill. He was a nice person. He used to joke with Jill accusing her of caring about O and me more than him.

MG: What will you miss most about him?

Baghdad Treasure: I will miss his company in smoking Hookah [Tobacco]!

MG: His sad passing saw his two children left without a father. Is there a support system in Iraqi society that will help his wife look after the children?

Baghdad Treasure: As we say in Iraq, There is the mercy of God and that's it.

MG: Because of what happened to Jill and Alan, do you feel intimidated or scared off investigating a story?

Baghdad Treasure: I don't feel scared at all. If so, I would have not accepted to be interviewed here.

MG: Since reporting in Iraq is one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet, why don't you or other reporters carry a Concealed Weapon?

To read the rest of the In T View, click on the
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