Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Walk 4 Iraq Part 2

Sometime in the mid year of 2007, 3 countries; UK, Canada, and New Zealand implemented a walk 4 Iraq fundraiser for money to send to Iraqi Refugees. The efforts the fundraisers put into this was to promote donation to Iraq from people in these 3 countries and take part in a 20km walk to fund humanitarian assistance for the Iraqi refugees in the Middle East. of walking in the remembrance of the innocent. Walk 4 Iraq was nothing but a name to the local community. Today this cause has spread to other cities in this world and it has been reported on the international headlines for recognition of the work that has been put to help the poor.

Here are some of the following news reports:
Dear all,
We hope everyone is having a healthy and happy start to the New Year. We are very happy to share with you an article that was published on AlJazeera.net just a few days ago mentioning the Walk for Iraq movement. Please click on the following link to see the article: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/1EB153AF-9C8B-489B-AACF-EEAFB7E2F591.htm For those of you who don't know about Walk for Iraq, in June 2007, a 19 km walk was organised for 30 people in the south coast of England, UK. A staggering £20,000 was raised for the International Committee of the Red Cross by the walkers to fund life saving activities in Iraq. Due to the success of the walk, the movement was later picked up in Auckland, New Zealand (NZ) and Toronto, Canada. Raising an impressive $40,000 between them, funds were donated to Iraqi Refugees of Refugees International and to the Iraq Appeal fund of The Canadian Red Cross. Both walks produced an astounding list of achievements, from extensive media coverage (leading news channels and newspapers), to welcoming the minister of ethnic affairs Chris Carter on the NZ walk, to being described as the one of the most successful fundraising initiatives the Canadian Red Cross have ever seen for the Middle East. Well done to Zainab Shnyin and Yazen Al-Safi and their teams in setting up the walk in their respective cities. You can read more on the achievements of each walk and their donations at the following link: http://www.walkforiraq.com/ourwalks.html (see Related Information section under each walk)

A Global team has now been set up due to the worldwide interest in the movement and the project is now moving to other cities around the world. Just a glimse of what countries will be hosting Walk for Iraq for 2008: Holland,Qatar,Oman,UAE,New Zealand,Ottowa, Canada,Boston, Chicago, and Melbourne.

Walk for Iraq is also now on Wikipedia. Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_for_Iraq
Our future vision and aim in globalising the spirit of the walk is to generate more funds for humanitarian assistance and raise more awareness of the sufferings of the Iraqi people.

Finally, before we leave you all, we would like you to see this very moving video that was put together by the New Zealand team to promote Walk for Iraq http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCN5umAIam0

Monday, September 24, 2007

Explaining away..

Why are conspiracy theories so appealing to otherwise intelligent and informed individuals? Sometimes the answer to that is because everything can be cast in clear light to some people. Can there be no more grey areas and there will only be contrast of black and white, right and wrong, or truth and lies? There's simply no great neccessity to understand the complexities of western foreign policy or the roots of Islamic fundamentalism when clear-cut ideological motivations are invented.
Sadly, this world isnt simple. It is more like a web of interconnections. With so much going on and so little time to take it all in by its reality and the media, it can be shocking to try comprehending it all. This in the very core is where conspiracy theories fit in. It simply means that there is no need to comprehend when one can simply explain away .
It is also about power. Conspiracies can be made easily to make people feel subsumed by economoic realities, political systems or social conventions far beyond our control and thus leaving many of us feeling completely powerless. Through gaining knowledge, not given by the media nor available to the public, one can create his own power. Like those who carry out these conspiracies that the average truth seeker wants to uncover, it makes one feel his own elite- the privileged few who have access to the truth. It automatically makes a person feel better than the ignorant and uninformed masses that thrive on the sense of superiority .
One may imagine, does it really sound that bad? I guess, with a conspiracy theory on your side, everything can be made simple and this can instantly make you become better than everyone else in a matter of uttering a few words.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Human Norms

Life has an overwhelming significance for many. So many have gained and so many have lost. Each one of us lives his own world worrying about his own future, family and well being. However, we are unaware of what goes on in the lives of others. Walking down the city streets, I wonder what each person passing by is thinking and the future that holds for this person and the people around him. Why are our lives so seperated from one another? We may know and talk to the person but each person understands that there are issues to be discussed in the open with others and issues that should not be discussed publicly.


In this crowded environment, many of us who work, study and have a family are clinging to the with trying to catch up with our lives or more rather expectations from the developing society but we realize that the more isolated we are, the more distant we become from one another and this causes higher levels of concerns over time which influences the fate each society will end up going through. Given examples, take a look at the current situation in Iraq, the major factions of Iraqis have become so seperated from each others' affairs that even the city of Baghdad which once held a large part of diversity have now divided into suburbs depending on its factions that gained control of the area in the recent years. So many ethnic and local communities have isolated themselves from others even when they may live in the same city. Each person seems to have become on his own as an individual, seperate from the culture of family-hood and more so this is seen occuring within a family. A single family who left their cultural homeland have become so segregated that they are rarely able to spend a fair amount of time together unless if it is after which work and chores have been completed and if one's lucky to have spare time on their hands. If this lifestyle exists within a family, can one imagine how extreme it can become in the overall community? We need to bridge this gap that continues to widen before its too late to control this matter.

The segregation between communities has become a growing problem in other countries and living in a small country like New Zealand we see how this can really influence the stability and rights of people in a nation. Having said this, we remember how France banned the Hijabs in schools, how the Lebanese in Australia were rioted against for their inappropriate behavior, how cultural and religious communities have isolated themselves from the rest of the other communities and are now termed 'dangerous' because of concern people may have of them becoming potential people of creating mass blood-shed just because of the the name they hold that has been tainted from the media.



Look at ourselves, and reminding ourselves of these events and how appreciative we are of what citizens have offered us (with their support, financial help and advice), we should nevertheless keep away from letting the widespread tension between communities reach New Zealand just like other countries have faced. We are a nation so far from the chaos and we have great potential with the increasing diversity and developments to change this common norm before it is too late. As the world view the "Muslims" at the top of the headlines for some years now, the current Muslim youth in New Zealand with the support of the New Zealand government have agreed to help contribute their fundings and agreements to the activities organised by the Muslim youth to educate and expand the knowledge and opportunities given for the very young generation who have lived most of their lives in New Zealand and those older who can use their prior knowledge and skills in practice. This step forward can promote the religious and cultural freedom under legal rights through the increase of skills and cooperation within the Muslim community and also with other New Zealand communities. Establishing this building block of a strong Muslim community, with the will of the government, the rights of Muslims and ethnic people will be firmed and respected and our understanding and preparation for making this country our home will become greater. We are ought to be ready for serving our own communities as well as others in equality because no matter how things change for the better or worse, we are required to help the young become educated of the world and of their background and also change the peoples' outlooks of how they see of Muslims and ethnic people from the Middle East and Asia. Through this strength, like the organisations have of WorldVision,Save the children, orRedCross, we can get closer to reaching the goals of helping the poor in war-torn countries ranging from Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Palestine and so forth. Westerners ask Muslims where their help can be viewed, why is it just the westerners who seem to help the poor, they ask? The concern people have of the refugees, the lack of health, education in many areas are thoughts the Muslims here are working in changing it whether it may be awareness, a day of fundraising or even the thought of helping is what counts these days. With this drive, we can look forward that there will always be hope for the better.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Victory And its Worth

The victory of Iraq in the Asian Cup 2007 is a wonderful achievement. Within 5 years of a disasterous nation continuously at war before and after the 2003 war, Iraq has shown its persistence through the sucess of winning the cup. Although, many Iraqis have lost so much hope in the future of their country, winning the cup was something always possible in the minds of Iraqis. The Iraqi team was not far from getting close to this hope because they have passion to win something under the name of 'Iraq'. To win victory in the political masses of the new-born Iraqi government has always been controversial when considering the diversity of Iraq. What Iraqis have become, after the years of oppression and the risks in this war, has carved the personalities and mindsets of Iraqis variably. But there is one certain thing most Iraqis agreed and that was the Iraqi soccer team.


About 20 people in Iraq were killed in the quarter finals and consequently 50 people were killed in the semi-finals. Because of many Iraqi mothers who fear their childrens' celebrations and happiness will risk their lives, Iraqis in Iraq have started to wish for the loss of the finals in order to spare the lives of the young Iraqis. It is not the success in Iraqi sports that matters to elder Iraqis any longer. It is the young light-hearted lives that Iraqis hope the safety for from this bloody disaster. Nobody wants to see a young life be taken away for expressing the happiness and patriotism one has for his country; but the reality is tens of Iraqis were murdered for a meaingless cause by these criminals only but to suppress the freedom Iraqis attained from outside Iraq through sports. For once, Iraq was able to push its way through to the top and it did it through a passion of sports and dedication to their country. Certain people in this world do not want to see this come to reality for Iraq, people who always despised the eagerness of Iraqis to aspire. There really is no logical way to stop the attacks on Iraqis unless through prepation to become independent from any form of reliance by a nation or group of people. Who-ever is behind these attacks involves a person of middle eastern background who may be achieving a living out of his duty or has certain affiliations with a anti-pro Iraqi unity group. What ever the case is, many Iraqis realize that it is not worth to achieve success when lives continue to be lost. Too many lives have been lost in the last 5 years and it is way too much for any nation to compensate. If Iraqis cannot unite on a simple soccer match, then how could they agree on a unified government? There will be no way out of it, if this is so.
It is not worth to wait for lives being lost or for a weak government to reach a decision. We now know that Iraqis can no longer trust their next door neighbors. However, this can change if Iraqis want to attain their peace without the necessity of the government. People from all nations should realize that what goes on within the government can only create more chaos among the local society and to save the people is to encourage an understanding that at certain ocassions like the Asian Cup, Iraqis must do their best to protect their people from any danger against any certain faction of Iraq. Unfortunately, this merely did not take place to ensure the lives of happy Iraqis to be safe from any wrong-doers. Iraqis after 5 years were each in their own world, in their own part of Baghdad worrying about their own personal problems. They had forgotten that to be protected from danger also means that they must deal with their neighboring suburbs of different faction, in order to retreive the peace on these special ocassions.

Segregating factions of Iraq doesnt solve the problem because it will only leave their younger generation with more problems to confront. Segregation by lack of communication or building walls must be done through an agreement otherwise there will be no difference living beside each others or having a wall built.

What has been inserted in the last 2 years is this new barrier Iraqis have created for themselves, a disability to communicate with each other from different factions. For an example, my own aunt couldnt have contact with her own brother, my uncle when both of them had lived in a suburb right beside other or her relative who lives in the same suburb as she does. Why create these barriers? Would these barriers serve for any difference of outcome if they were removed? Even with those barriers, criminals are still able to roam around and destabilize the situation. There would have been nothing to lose if Iraqis tried to sort out an agreement on these exciting ocassions because even when Iraqis try to seperate themselves, the result of death is still probable.
Millions of Iraqis from Shia, Sunni to the Kurds and Christians chanted 'Iraq Iraq Iraq', but many of these Iraqis secured by their local militia forces forgot the worry in protecting the people during their excitement and the use of weapons as means for celebration until it suddenly became sounds of pain and weapons of murder. Victory under one name and flag is not worthy if this is how is treated in a divided country.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Seeing Iraq win in soccer is one of the most cherished sensations for an Iraqi. To see the team play soccer has become reality and it is a reality many yearn for to remain long lasting in its success. It is the success not to win the cup but to reminiscence the identity of Iraq and what it stood and will continue to stand for as long as there will be something valuable to remember Iraq by. A citizen can only hope that these obsolete feelings for the Iraq will not fade but be regained throughout the Iraqi soccer teams' journey in the Asian Cup. We all are eager to see t the outcome of this huge step

With all the restraints the world has taken against Muslims, the MiddleEast and Iraq as well, it has become such a burden to bear the identity of being Iraqi. For years living in this western country, we had always been recognised as Iraqis by the western community when simultaneously being treated as members of their nation. We Iraqis have turned full of shame after hearing a proposed Iraqi doctor attempting to plan a terrorist attack in UK. Having overviewed this attempt many times since it had happened, one can only re-iterate the mere attacks in Iraq to not be something so absurd but rather a possibility when such Iraqis who have suffered in their country, have aims to destabilize other countries with their own lack of stability. What really is irritating is witnessing other immigrants or refugees who chose to apply for residence in western nations to have a pessimistic view of the country that granted them a new life away from the war and violence. There is no space for people to commit attacks against civilians of the west in the nation that had accepted them. There are so many other innocent victims who wish to have a tiny chance in receiving the same opportunities of starting their life all over again, away from any sort of trouble. Had these criminals realized that they are depriving their own people of rights and chances of moving far away from the troubles of their nation? Had they not realized that their attacks are tarnishing their own reputation, and distancing the opportunities for their own countrymen to reach their goals for survival....Nobody really knows apart from God and those who are responsible for such a crime.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Validation of History

Nothing seems to encourage me to post these days other than noting certified history. It is not dead innocent people or the destroyed artifacts remaining in Iraq that is marked as history for the future generations and which promotes me to write. I avoid writing the sorrows and pain of Iraq and prefer to write the persistence and range of possibilities that could occur in the near future. Nothing can really bring back these dead people or the wonders of Mesopotamia that stood high up with pride and wealth. Nothing makes me want to post other than pushing forward the lit torch at the end of a tunnel that can be seen as prosperous to the current generations and to the future generations who may look back upon history and say 'yes, history may repeat itself and with hope, goals and justice can be claimed'.
This is what encourages me to write, to hope that maybe I look back on my writings and see that those were the days we were all waiting with eagerness to see a greater future than what it is assumed to be.
Nothing can erase the tender feelings of the Iraqis in Iraq who see a criminal they were once afraid to displease, be judged for his cruel acts. One may think that this event of justice will not serve to be a success for a stable Iraq but the reality is, when Iraqis in Iraq we talk to whether family to friends, hear this credible occasion, we sense the regain of hope in the sounds of their voices and the transformation in their outlook of life. Had any Iraqi citizen thought that although their government appears a failure, they have achieved to finally see a dictated regime be displaced with its leader and members being accounted by death for their acts within 5 years of this invasion? Some may have different opinions but the more these members are taken in court, the more clarity Iraqis should have to act against the current crisis. Its unbearable seeing the thousands of Iraqis wanting to leave their home, yet it is with their right to plan for this decision. However, leaving home would only guarantee that the land will be neglected and dominated by criminals that many of us never want to ever see control Iraq. Leaving home means our nation will never come back because without the will of the people in support, in persistence for this democratic or free leadership, how is Iraq to witness success in its rule when no Iraqi is able to stand up against those in government who claim freedom whilst having the pride and ego of an unloyal citizen. It is in every human government prone to mistakes that a politician can make crime and it is our responsibility as citizens to ensure that it will not take place. This cannot be apprehended if there is no loyal Iraqi who still lives in the country. A country that promotes itself to be different than the rest of the Middle East and even more so better needs its people to support and to be actively concerned with the fate of the government, not only to live their day as if current problems did not exist. With the news of Chemical Ali and the absence of Saddam Husseins' presence in court, it uplifts the spirits of the Iraqis who desire to see a change in their country, it prevents young Iraqis from taking part in the random violence that occur in the streets and encourage them to be patient or to use their knowledge more widely to helping this justice and to work for their future. These are things many people fail to remember because the reflection Iraqis attain of such events are abandoned by the media. With this announcement about a member of the former regime and the contribution of the Iraqis, there is only more to be done and less to be lost. This is a sharper turn in Iraq's history; it is the change or the transition of completing the prior chapter in Iraq's history and the start of a new one. That vital transition should not be missed.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Petition Far From The Real World

Some things in life appear to be very far from reality. The idea of imagining that a certain situation that is far from control is a very little possibility. However, one may act in a certain way in hope that it can change, that a human being with the support of others can make a difference when it is recognised that most problems are not capable of being solved with a single gesture...
This is what I meant...Down below is a campaign in support of proper negotiation between world politicians and a timetable of USA withdrawing from Iraq. To think that USA's withdrawal would be a success to the peace in Iraq is nothing but fantasy. And to encourage our politicians to negotiate is far from possible merely because they spent day and night since the very first election post 2003 talking with each other with no end-conclusion. How different will it be now? Will the meeting in Sharm al sheikh help encourage mature and reasonable negotiations? Will it push our current leaders to move forward? Well, least to say, it's worth a try petitioning for this even when we may not fully agree with the ideas behind the campaign because to me, a petition created in the virtual world seems a long way in making it to reality...
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Subject: A real security plan for Iraq
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Finally a meeting to discuss security in Iraq where all the powers will be present including the US, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. But will the hopes and wishes of Iraqi people be represented? The situation is too terrible to leave it to the politicians. We're calling on all Iraqis to send messages to the meeting, and to sign a petition demanding a withdrawal timetable along with all-party negotiations to stabilize Iraq.

Click to make your voice heard: http://www.avaaz.org/en/
The bombings even in the Parliament building, and daily in Baghdad, Ramadi, Diwaniyah, Kerbala, Mosul, show Bush's "Security Plan" has failed. Most Iraqis want US withdrawal within a year or sooner, and know the coalition troop presence is making them less secure. But we need responsibility too -- all-party negotiations, better leadership, real international help for Iraq.

We can't let politicians continue to pursue their own interests by force, while the Iraqi people suffer in chaos and division. So let's send a clear message from all Iraqis to this decisive meeting:

Set a withdrawal timetable and start negotiations: http://www.avaaz.org/en/
The petition will be delivered to the conference and your messages will be projected near the US Capitol building in Washington DC.

Iraqis are caught in the middle of a power game disguised as civil war. But this is not what the majority want! The only solution is to end the occupation and come together for a new Iraq. The powers are meeting next Thursday (May 3rd 2007) in Sharm El-Sheikh, but will they see the light? Let's join with tens, hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and send the politicians a powerful message –

Set a withdrawal timetable and start negotiations: http://www.avaaz.org/en/
Please, participate in the campaign, add your own special message, and forward this email to all your family, colleagues and friends!

In hope,

Khalid, Graziela, Ricken, and the whole Avaaz team

P.S. Avaaz is a global organization with almost 1 million members from every country in the world. Our goal is to to make the values and view of the world's public opinion heard by global decision makers on important world issues, using technology and the Internet. Thousands of Iraqi Avaaz members were invited to participate in developing this campaign, which is already supported by over 75,000 people and key international experts.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Solution to Iraq, We Iraqis demand a change!

We Pray to God the almighty that he brings peace and justice to Iraq, and security and a prosperous life to the Iraqi people.The issue in Iraq is not whether we support the baathist or not, the game being played by the occupied forces is so the Iraqis are desperate to feel the need to go back to the old regime, this is what occupiers rub their hands on.On many occasions a comparison is being made between the old regime and the new one, from my opinion such a comparison cannot be fully adequate to perform results on whether Iraq is succesful or notThere are Iraqis who have not tasted oppression until post-war 2003 and there are those who are tasting freedom within thier own definitions.

One thing that is agreed upon is that saddam didnt do any favours to the Iraqis and certainly he did not build his country into an advanced modern pro freedom state. Instead he lead the country into wars and massacred as well as formed a secret agency to manipulate the Iraqis which led to sins such as fitna, lying, deceiving, killing, raping, slaughtering and so on..One cannot justify a crime by saying "they were forced" or "they were afraid", at the end of the day, a crime remains a crime. Until now the baathists are neither sorry to the Iraqi people neither do they claim they ever wronged, this is a clear indication to whom we are dealing with.In my opinion, the whole idea of working with the occupiers is very dangerous, many claim there is a civil war, i speak with Iraqis on a daily basis from Iraq and not one have even mentioned that there is civil war of the nature that we see on the western media.

If you all remember when the invaders came into Iraq, saddam, never resisted, infact he gave up very easily. what happened to the fedayeen? what happened to the army that led the country into 3 wars? the answer is simple, they are there in Iraq doing exactly what they were doing before, raping, drilling heads into people, slaughtering, kidknapping and so on. IF we were to believe that the militias were a threat to how the west perceive them to be, then why did the raping, killing, slaughtering continue even after al badr brigade, al mahdi army stopped thier operations? Why are these militias always linked to Iran? is it not a coincidence that the occupied forces suddenly want to attack Iran? do we as Iraqis not care to think about our country and letting any tom,Richard or harry rule ?Why is it that afghanis, pakistanis, saudis, syrians, sudanese and egyptians have to come into Iraq in the name of removing the occupied forces when they themselves have U.S presence in their very own lands. What is it that brings these creatures into Iraq? just contemplate the bigger and wider picture of Iraq rather than being emotional from one side or the other.

It is evident the world does not care about Iraqis, infact the hatred to Iraq and its people is so high that you get public statements nowadays on the media without shame supporting the killing of young Iraqi students.Inside Iraq at this moment is an enemy which is from all sides of the continent ranging from the baathists to the wahabi-salafis, you have the occupied forces in a large military presence and you have this claim that many muslims have in their head "its the jews".

The minute we wake up as Iraqis and defend Iraq as Iraqis for the Iraqis by the Iraqis is the day Iraq will be the fastest growing pro modern free country, not dubai, not saudi, not iran not britian not usa can keep up. This is the exact jealousy, hatred, fear the enemy has, its clear as daylight.If the government want to rehire baathists, this in my opinion is moving backwards, infact its going back to step 1, as what is the limit? who controls the limit? what other desperate needs are you going to try and fulfil? why is it the government lacks management and security as well as public support?

The ultamite prize is freedom, the way to freedom is by Faith in Allah(swt), we do not have faith in the occupiers, we do not have faith in the baathists, we do not have faith in anything other than Allah(swt).

If the americans want to help us as Iraqis then let them listen to what we want, not the other way round, I have 5 requests for the american administration as an Iraqi;

1) Change uniforms from U.S badges, U.S flagships to CLEAR well written writing saying" Peace force"

2) Retreat all soldiers to the borders, show us you care about Iraq and stop external countries meddling inside Iraq

3) Change ALL soldiers to policemen, soldiers do not make good police force, FACT, period.

4) Support the Iraqi people by giving them food, electricity, homes

5) Establish full command and control to the Iraqi forces with adequate equipment and play a supportive role to them if needed

Regards,

written by the Anonymous..

PS: Happy Easter to all our Christian brothers and sisters.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Turmoil of an Oppressed Country

WIth the security plan taking the steps in changing the current situation in baghdad, a young man in the streets of Kadhimeya takes his ill mother by the hand to the nearest hospital. After a bomb struck his neighborhood, he said to his family 'any improvement that has been made and reported on TV is attacked by the criminals to make it worse than it was before. It is just a matter of them acting like rebellious children when they don't like something, they end up going against it under any circumstance'. A hospital, he says, is no longer a place to go to when you need the help from medical attendents; he went and saw a destructed unhygenic hospital with dead lying bodies of children and young men and women from all ages. He cried not for his mother but for these dead people who were mutilated into pieces from the attacks that took revenge near the hospital against any slight improvement. This young man who was recently married several months ago but has to share a small one room apartment with his mother, and both married brother and sister and their children. He so longed to leave this country like many fellow Iraqis but just didn't have the strength to leave his beloved home at such a state even when he is unable to go to work in this dangerous state. How could they survive with such little money in the rising rates of Iraq's neighboring countries in order to limit the number of Iraqis flooding their countries? How is it they don't t care as much about stopping these criminals crossing their borders over to Iraq everyday so they can ease the issue of Iraqi exile?

Having to bear the reality of his mother, it has become less of a reason to go to any hospital. Many doctors have left for the sake of their safety and the condition of reaching to a hospital with doctors who are capable of performing certain medical procedures are not available, at least not in Baghdad. The ill mother, my aunt, was once a strong woman who never gave up on the hope of seeing a bright future; the only thing that she had left was her home that has been taken by criminals, her job and her 3 live children. It is depressing not knowing that she is ill with a possible condition of Tuberculoriss or cancer that can be accepted, but it is the acknowledgement of knowing that she has to go through several diagnosis with no proper equipment or even anesthetic/ painkillers to help her get through the painful procedure. One would think how many like her and those in worse states are facing this misery? Does one not deserve to get satisfactory treatment for any human in a specialised venue, whether the innocent or guilty? Must hospitals be attacked because of treating sick people with a different ethic/religious background? What have hospitals done wrong? Do these hospitals acquire any illegal weaponry taken against these criminals that they had to destroy before it'd be used? This is what it has come down to; the corrupt huamnity of recognising how vicious they have become for attacking public places, the slaughter and war against humans who are not like to them by the slightest difference. There is little decency left in certain parts of this world; of which are obvious and others which are not. Iraq with much history of civilisation and the modernisation that once offered to the world thousands of years ago is falling apart which is taken over by the current tyranny, mass murder and the grounds filled with blood and vain. Maybe, just maybe, it is just a nation's phase of overcoming the past in between the transient present to aim for a golden future...or must that be too much of a fantasy...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thought Count

Who gave the gun? Who is the one that took the gun from another man's hands to use it for killing innocent people? USA started a war but who are the people that allow themselves to pull the trigger in order to kill a random civilian? Are they Americans or are they random religious extremists and brainwashed nationalists from the former Iraqi regime?

The answer lies in between...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Israel

"Ahmad, Iman and Lizan, three Iraqi children who suffer from heart defects, arrive at Wolfson Medical Center for surgery as part of humanitarian project; ‘We’re not afraid’, says Ahmad’s mother Meital Yasur-Beit on 03.01.07 at 22:45"

In several cases since the war on Iraq, Israel may not not only be a problematic conspiracy in Iraq's violence but it has been the most influencial state that has offered its medical attention to the Iraqis who are ill and in need of major help. An example of this are these 3 children. Many ignorant people have down-sized the good things Israel has to offer. Certainly Israel has been guilty of political violence and incitation against the Palestinians and even probably against Iraq but these acts should not erase the good things it has to offer for people world wide. If those people don't believe in goodness in Israel, then they should be asked "What good thing have Arab nations offered to the Iraqis?" Why the need to degrade an entire population for the actions of a few people or a government? Last week I sat down with friends where suddenly, the topic turned political in regard to the issue of Israel and the New World Order "I am against all Jews because theyre Israelis" someone said. I thought for some time about what to say in a very subtle way to these friends who are sensitive towards the word 'Israel'. I have come to a conflicting point where I am starting to accept the fact that as a person, you cannot speak out every opinion you have at any given moment, especially in politics and religion merely because of maintaining the friendship that existed before these discussions even took place. The most controversial time to speak what needs to be spoken is if a person of certain origin (Jewish/Israeli/ Muslim) is disadvantaged by this person because of his/her belief. I have always wanted to speak what is rarely spoken in truth but I realize that life offers no neccessity to withhold all this truth to the public; it would only comprise more tension and distance for the sake of a single discussion and for common sense it is much more beneficial to not keep away from people with extreme views but to retain them close with hope they would be less ignorant about it.
However, the small truth in this post would be people need to balance the good and bad deeds of a person and of a nation. Nations are like people because nations are represented by these people with certain traits of character and personality. To see Israel with a history and presence of violence offer their help to the international society must be accounted for. If we see Israel attack Palestinians and be at the hands of USA, this should not erase the goodness Israel has to offer and this is likewise for Muslim countries with extremists. Yes, life would make much more sense if we are to immediately group people and nations of 'good' and 'bad' but it would be a worthy life if we are in a world where we do NOT permanently characterise and generalise these people/nations based on a single action and develop our understanding of it. Life, otherwise, would not make sense because it would no longer be logical to know what reason we are here for in life if we refuse to learn.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Survival

One of the mere ways to find out the truth from a report headline is to wait till the public's responses and the investigations die down to the bottom conclusion. The conclusion of the Iraqi woman who claimed to have been raped was nothing but a scam. Evidence can only show that she wanted the attention and probably had aims to influence the political stage of the Iraqi government's nvolvement with the US forces. a A diagnosis was made that there were no signs nor symptoms of rape and what ever thought she had in mind to get away with such a claim is absurd. I wonder what more Iraqis have in plan in trying to discourage the situation in Iraq and its internal chaos.
We finally got in contact with relatives living in kadhimiya a few days ago and there was nothing but misery from their voices. They cant leave their home shelters or even go out to buy food. Even supermarkets are targets, what is so striking about a supermarket to a criminal terrorist? What a shame in society... innocent people are continuously in danger even when they are sitting at home waiting for the chaos to calm down; if they step their foot out outside they can be doomed, if they sit at home then thats also considered a danger. What's more surprising is how Iraq's economy is flourishing by large. It now costs 600US$ a month to rent a small apartment in one of Baghdad's safest suburbs. 600US$? Can one believe if there is such a rent here for a simple apartment in the west? No body asks for such amount of money just to rent an casual apartment for a month. This is how bad Iraqis go in economy; they steal money more than they have to off people running away from the violence. Nonetheless, this money can be paid for if only Iraqi citizens were allowed to go to work in safety. The problems are endless but the solutions are limited because in Baghdad that is often not possible unless if the person is ready to initially commit a massive death note to him or herself just to get to the workplace. Many friends and relatives left their homes and are hiding in certain suburbs that are controlled by random militia fighting against outsiders who are willing to endanger the population living in that area. There is one thing I do not forget what my friend in Iraq told me; these are his words 'Many Iraqis are against random fighters who are not part of the governments national forces. We [Iraqis] are against insurgents, terrorists and militias but the only reason innocent Iraqis support them is because they have to, not because they WANT to. They are now pressured to aid their support to a certain religious or tribal background to protect themselves from getting killed by others. It is no longer easy or possible for Iraqis to be individually seperated from this mass of violence while being alive in between it.'
I guess there is not much to say from the above quote, is there? Maybe so..

Monday, February 12, 2007

The modification a Mended Man

Alot of us forget how bad and imperfect people Iraqis are like the rest of the world because we love Iraq so much like its some heaven thus, we fail to know some Iraqis can be such criminal, narrowminded, rude scumbags. Young Iraqis should learn alot more about the dark history of Iraqis implemented by Iraqis. On the second hand, Saddam was a CIA agent, sure...yes he was a product of the USA but who was the whacko who chose to be an agent of the USA? Who was the traitor who sold Iraq to the Americans long before Shia were ever thought of to support USA? Who was the one who created hundreds of thousands of Baathists even worse than the leader himself? Who was the leader who implemented training camps to train Iraqis to be blood thursty monger BAATHISTS who would slain innocent iraqis and cut them into tiny pieces to be food for the chickens or to be kept in a plastic bag package for the victim's family? I got the answer; IRAQIS.
Americans didnt do all the mess in Iraq for the last 50 years. America can be accounted for its crime but one has to admit that parts of Iraq are guiltier. Why dont we read some of our wonderful bloody history of Iraq and then find out how much bad people there are in Iraq. It isn't reasonable judging Iraqi history to be exactly the same as the present issues but surely, we can manage to learn some similarites and traits that are still contained in Iraqis today and how humans in the present and past find a common ground to repeat some acts in war and violence but not all.

How can a man become a product of another country than where he came from (Saddam being a US product) if he wasnt the reactants in what produced the product result? Think more thoroughly about it because I am saying Saddam is born and bred in Iraq, his originality, his teachings, his family are the reactants of the product of what pushed him to go to USA. Read about his home. Read about how many other similar stories occurred like Saddam's. There is a saying that is relevant. If you wanted someone to buy a bottle of milk, and when you got the milk in hands but spilt it then it is you who has to clean up the spilt milk. Apply that with Saddam and USA and you will understand how it can be a good strategy to achieve success. Make USA=you, in the prior sentence and Lets think of it this way. Saddam=someone who was asked to help buy the milk. Its like cleaning the dirt and mess you made on your own.There are all kinds of theories to success but unfortunately alot of the waste of time were failed attempts to overthrow Saddam and a sense of helplessness, many ways Iraqis think about how to solve Iraq but only one or two can be actually successful.
This is not a self-hating post, it is simply testifying the reality of history and the present and is in no way representitive of the entire iraqi population.

Monday, February 05, 2007

To progress Is To Also Forget

The following was written in regard to the relevant discussion of Iraq and America:
All nations have their flaws. My concern is how much more flaw Americans have in comparison to Iraqis and vise versa. Its about quality and thus quantity as well.
Baathists who raped and killed Iraqis are worse than Americans and foreigners ever would. We forgot those days where we end up finding ourself to be very deaf to the experiences prior to Iraq becoming the MAIN theme of the world Media (aka Iraq before 2003 war). It is just American this, nonMuslims that. To this day, Iraqis apply all the torture styles that had been imposed on the Iraqi population and this is not limited to the Baaathists. The electric drill-holes, the cutting tongues, pulling nails and cigarette burns are some of the work that continue to take place without neccessity of the primary Baath leadership. How could a new life and beginning proceed in Iraq if even the slightest remnant of the Baath torture styles have continued to drag on into the chapter of life without Saddam? I must wonder how...
I am very aware how USA is taking advantage of Iraq's vulnerability through possible promoting of sectarian violence and by using Iraq's resources as more Iraqis are murdered. While all that happens, many of us fail to mention how USA is STILL beneficial and loyal to the average citizen living in USA now regardless of how criminal they look to the world. And this is the sole reason what strikes me about USA. It is absurd to hear anti Iraq war protestors call out Bush to be like Saddam. Saddam and "Americans" are different, a simple reason why? Because Saddam NEVER cared for Iraqis but Bush cared and still care for their own people even during the presence of the wars he has created.
I emphasize so much honesty(improvements and critcism against my own people because I believe admitting our good and bad flaws will help us correct our mistakes we aren't aware; it is like closing previous chapters in order to permanently move to a new chapter that isnt parallel to the past, BUT of course Middle Easterners are so often obsessed about the past; you are an example of that and I can be part of that example too). I have always shared my truthful comments whether it contradicts other peoples' beliefs in politics and religion or not. It is the bitter side of conversations that many people in this world fail to mention.
Iraqis need to be freed from the ill extremists who are greedy for power, dictatorship and not justice. Those extremists are ALSO Iraqis. We need to look at the history of Iraq because we should look at how troubled Iraqis are finding themselves in. Iraq is not fighting the Americans only but fighting years of oppression that damaged Iraqis in so many ways UNimagined, but also the oppression that exists outside Iraq in the Middle East and certainly the religious and political influences from those neighbors. Iraqis are severely stuck between tribal, political and religious issues and values. Iraqis are using these tribal, political and religious issues and differences to fight for their own personal aim. No country has ever been THIS divided before in so many aspects. These are issues that American soldiers in Iraq do not have and have rarely experienced before.
To truly progress, Iraqis must look at the future and not use the past as an interactive strategy in building the future. How can Iraqis create and establish a new Iraq if they do not stop holding the past to their hearts that can easily transform to revenge? How can the present be clean if the past has infested the present? Iraqis should forget the past but take from their OWN history things that are neccessary to be learnt. They [Iraqis] will succeed if they build their future by making SURE that they will not make the same mistakes as in the past leaderships.

Monday, January 29, 2007

What Cannot Be Erased

Here's a little tale about someone I know:

A middle aged Iraqi man had lived in Amriya Baghdad most of his life. Most of his children have left the country but he and his wife who are parents never saw life outside their only home in Amriyah. The years they spent working for it, the amount of money they put in it...how can one expect them to leave when they know they may never see their home in one piece. This man is Sunni, his parents are Sunni and Shia and his wife is Sunni. One night, a bunch of kidnappers who were presumingly Sunni kidnapped this innocent man and was tortured by the kidnappers for being a Shia. As soon this man's family found out about his kidnapping and the reason for the kidnap, the man's family immediately took his identification and family birth certificates showing that he is a Sunni in hope to stop the kidnappers from killing him.
What continues to amaze me is how Muslims used to complain about how US troops use bags over Iraqi heads when they arrest certain suspects. This Iraqi man was blind folded and had a bag over his head the whole time this kidnapping took place and these kidnappers were not Americans, they were in fact Iraqi. The kidnappers initially asked only for a ransom from his family but when the man accidently caught sight or appearance of the kidnappers, the criminals who kidnapped him became very aggressive and wanted to kill him for what he saw. With faith and help from his family negotiating with these criminals, this man was reluctantly freed by the kidnappers. This experience enlightened him to 2 certain things; 1)He realized that life in Amriyah is too risky and that it is not worth staying. 2) The reason he found his presence to be of no benefit in Iraq is because when he caught a glimpse of these kidnappers, they turned to be just kids.
We may say these kids' acts must not be tolerated and thus disciplined to be taught properly but I think the kids that are forcing men and women of older ages cannot be disciplined the way Saddam's regime disciplined them and brainwashed these young kids in silence and blind obedience. It cannot be easily erased and for the least to say, it cannot be erased in the near future to help Iraq. Many elders who lived under Saddam and before him are not highly influenced as the young generation are. The young people are the future of a nation and the young are the people who will take over the nation from the leadership of the elderly. Saddam who was seen as a secularist did not teach secularism, he created a world of racism and discrimination and those teachings reached to the average Iraqi child which now help create differences between the Iraqi community today. This is what a section of the brainwashing Saddam's regime imposed and it has been the core of the problem in Iraq.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

OliveBranch Network

For some time now, the Olive Branch Network has been attracting alot of attention from its readers and from the growing numbers of Iraqi bloggers who have been participating in writing entries on this network. The Olive Branch Network started off as a plan to help the Iraqi people express their views and tell the collective truth under one website, one network. It is now a network that is achieving the aim to connect the outside world to the Iraqis. In some ways, it is like the Iraq Blog Count blog but rather the network written by Iraqis in Iraq and those outside of Iraq concentrates on the "collective" truth of every likely event worthy to be mentioned to the public.
I insist you to take a look at this rising Network. The OliveBranch network will be 1 year old this Thursday and in such a short time, it has progressed rapidly to be what this network represents today. It has transformed to be one of the few homes on the internet for Iraqis to share their stories of the war to the world.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bush's 2007 Proposal

Having watched President Bush's live speech to the US public for his decision to send 21,500 troops to Iraq and seeing the mass of reactions towards it during daily discussions with Iraqis and westerners, over the news on TV and radio, and on internet programs, I have gained some interesting insight from this new strategy plan that changed the sense of direction with USA and Iraq politics.
I found Bush's speech to rather useful irregardless of the times he took to practice his lines for this important event. It made me realize that most of what Iraqis understand of the situation are being acknowledged by the US. This acknowledgement from Bush signifies a good and bad sentiment; what should the US do rightfully to exterminate the unwanted result?
Alot of the American friends I know seem to worry about the fate of their troops in Iraq which encourages them to want their troops immediately pulled out of Iraq. However, such Americans need to be aware that there is a right time for everything on Earth. US troops cant just leave Iraq with no plan with how Iraq will survive the chaos by itself. If US troops sought to withdraw from Iraq 2 years ago, I would have certainly agreed to it but demanding the withdrawal as of now is not a good idea. I believe this for certain reasons, one of them because Iran and Israel do not have one of the most relevant relationships between them and US having to completely step off Iraqi soil will have Iraq dragged into this circle of more tension and violence with its neighbors. Two years ago the violence occurred mainly between terrorists,insurgents against the average Iraqi civilian for the sake of killing 1 or 2 American soldiers. This is not the primary reason for the attacks any longer, these attacks are morever caused by Iraqi militias against other Iraqis to gain certain parts of region they wish to make Sunni or Shia. The police force had been biased in serving the entire community whether Sunni, Shia, Kurdish or Christian, some chose to aid their. The common stores have become segregated to whom they wish to sell their products to. And now, it has gone this far that even hospitals have stopped helping any sick and injured person. Hospitals have seperated from each other to serve their own Sunni or Shia region. Are these not signs of how deep this violence has reached? This is certainly not the best time for foreign troops to withdraw because it leaves Iraq with a very weak biased government along with its national forces. Nor would the withdrawal guarantee any better safety for the American people in USA or safety for Iraqis in Iraq who are left to forcefully live in a terrorist haven.
For 4 years, I paid close attention at nearly every governmental plan that the US and Iraq have made to help Iraq improve. And I have seen nothing but useless efforts from the US from the time the US troops joined Iraqi forces to attack Fallujah and Anbar. US troops have done nothing more in Iraq other than enter random Iraqi homes to check for criminals and live on the roof of those homes they have checked for their own personal security. But this plan Bush and his administration should define the existance of USA in Iraq. Does USA want to secure Baghdad with Iraqis? Or does USA really want to make itself look like they cannot handle the chaos among Iraqis and thus they are to withdraw from a civil war? And can the violence in Baghdad end? This is the moment that I personally have been waiting for. This is a mission the US should have planned to carry out at least 1 year ago to cleanse Baghdad permanently from the insurgents, terrorists and rising militias.
In truth, I hope the US and Iraqi mission will succeed to stabilize Baghdad. Baghdad is teh centre of Iraq, it is the home to many ethnic and religious Iraqis and if Baghdadis cannot sort out an end to the internal violence between each other, how would we expect the rest of Iraq to agree to live under one Iraq otherwise? Without a stable Baghdad only leads to an unstable Iraq.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Heaven or Hell?

My opinions about Saddam's executions has not changed from the moment I heard Saddam was hung, other than the surprise that they did do what these Iraqis claimed to do about Saddam's trial verdict. This is what I think: We are humans, we do not have supernatural powers. We are just people filled with basic kinds ofpassion of anger, revenge, saddness or happiness. Our ways of expressing emotions are limited and in many cases difficult to describe. There are times when I hear my Iraqi friends being so happy about his death and other times where I hear my other Iraqi AND non-iraqi friends who are deeply sad about his death (for loving him or for seeing the execution on public TV as a disgrace). It depends on how we evaluate this execution. Why are we happy about executing a man who kills people too? What good does it do for us to be happy about his execution? This is what we should think about.
Saying Saddam is going to hell will not make a difference to where he may actually go, it only eases our pain and our well-being. I regret hearing people say Saddam will go to hell. As Iraqis who suffered under his regime, we should not be taunting a man who has always been a murderer from childhood. Say what you like as an Iraqi from any ethnic and religious background but if we Iraqis like to seek the true meaning of Justice, we should not blindly turn this execution as revenge and calling him to hell. This is up to God or up to the will of the anonymously powerful being who will have the power to take him to a place he deserves to be in. Saddam was a man, a human with great sins, mistakes etc, he was not an animal because even if he was, even an animal whould be treated with respect and dignity aka animal rights.....we cannot say he will go to hell...we cannot say this man is a non-believer of God for 'surely' going to hell just coz we saw him do something from ill-manner.......we should remind our selves how human we are and incapable of wishing hell or heaven on somebody because it really is not beneficial. We cannot judge the after-life punishments (heaven or hell) but we can judge the current life punishments (death penalty, life imprisonment).......why are we making him out to be like a dog and thus punished this dog to death unfairly? If Saddam was let loose for the average Iraqi citizens to do what they want with Saddam 'as justice', Im sure that the Iraqis will commit exactly the same kinds of murder as Saddam committed against innocent Iraqis, Im sure they will kill him, drag him across the streets, make fun of him, cut him into pieces and then feed him to the chickens or send it in a plastic bag to his family's front door, just like Saddam did to innocent Iraqis. Is this the representing role model Iraqis want to set for the future Iraq with the new government? Is saying 'Saddam will burn in hell' a good role example for the world to use when people start saying 'Shia Iraqis will burn in hell for their kuffr (non-believing in God)?
Our uncontrolled hatred for Saddam is allowing us to have blood in our hands and this is not what we should really want for our supposedly NEW Iraq. As humans who seek Justice and not revenge, we should have no say to where he is going, all we know is he will be punished for what he deserves. We are forgetting the real purpose of executing Saddam and that is to remove the illness he caused upon Iraqis hoping that we can forget what we did and rule Iraq better than he could have ever done. This tarnishes the entire system of ruling Iraq differently than Saddam.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saddam's Era

Saddam was executed by hanging on 30th December 2006. Several friends connected to the Green Zone and the Iraqi government have stated different times of 30th December when and where Saddam was actually executed. The celebrations for this new chapter after Saddam's era have not occured yet in NZ but I suppose that will be postponed to the Iraqi New year parties held on 31st December for all the Iraqi citizens. I spent the day and night watching several Arab media like Aljazeera which spent their reports interviewing people who supported Saddam. Western medias seemed more useful in interviewing witnesses of Saddam's execution and fellow politicians who are aware of the court verdict. For the Muslim world in the northern Hemisphere, it is the Eid al adha which signifies the biggest celebrations in the religion of Islam. Many Iraqis question the reason of executing Saddam on this special occassion. Why would they leave it at such a time? I guess Bush made his odd speeches about the year ending only when Saddam is executed and Saddam was acting so religious and tacky about wanting his execution day to be near the time of Eid. Many of us can only question what this Iraqi government benefiting the Iraqis in Iraq? What good are they doing to extend the execution date for an extra 2 weeks after the official verdict by the Iraqi judge? What good is the government when it decides to issue segments of Saddam's hanging on public television. What does politician Laith Kuba indicate when he chose to go back to USA losing his goals in Iraq after stating that each person his own valley of opinions which other Iraqi politicians refuse to listen to? All these things indicate that the Iraqi government is there to play with our emotions, particularly Iraqi emotions. I say that because the Iraqi government at the time of the famous abdul kareem qasim was not shown his execution completely to the public; to this day it is still rare to find a video that shows his death. Or how about the time when Saddam's sons were caught by American troops....their 'dead' faces were shown in photos, not videos or photographers. I watched with disgust as the media showed segments of this hanging, not because I love him but because it is inhumane to see a man you hate get killed infront of you. We humans are prone to hate somebody, a man who ruined our lives but are unable to commit a crime ourselves or even observe it live, many of us do not have this capability by nature; that is how Faisal sabbardi interviewed by several current medias said it "Saddam killed my family and friends and I left Iraq because of Saddam but there is no reason or benefit for me to witness his entire execution on video, all I need is a photo of his dead body to prove to me that he is dead". However because Iraqis are gullible, like the time the death of Saddam's sons were denied for the first few days, this event needed extensive footages for Iraqis to believe that, yes, Saddam did actually get executed. That's how barbaric Iraqis have become; by tolerating the death and to provide the way of execution to the entire national public and world-wide.
Each Middle Eastern country had its own style of benefit and view of Saddam. However at the end of the day when Saddam has left this Earth, several people like the Palestinians who benefited from Saddam's aid, Jordanians, Syrians and Libyans still have their respect to this man. The Libyan leader recently showed sympathy towards this very day. Why? I must ask myself.......Is it maybe he is scared that this day of execution will reach to his doorstep too because the whole public witnessed it and he needed to be seen as something better than saddam by sympathizing over his death? Why is it they see him so obedient and respectful when Iraqis, Kuwaitis and Iranians see him as a murderer? True, Saddam was seen as a respectful man towards certain countrymen but he was certainly not the same with local citizens and those he made war against. Only Iraqi citizens are aware of how bad Saddam and his regime really was, they faced it first hand directly, there should be no major reason for other people to deny what Iraqis say about Saddam.
I must say there is a difference for an Iraqi being sad about viewing this execution, people like me...and an Iraqi who had been sad from the moment they caught Saddam. Saddam is a weak man who refused to use his weapon he had in the hole while hiding but because alot of people listened to him, he became certainly powerful. There is much to say about this moment, the good and bad, but I can only say that this execution is not everything. It is simply a step closer to the ultimate goals of the average Iraq, which is to attain peace, security and equality. It is part of the solution. Whether Saddam's era will continue to be used as revenge or retaliation, that is one questionable possibility in regards to how much people are willing to fight for such a cause. Time as always, will tell.
Happy Eid and New year!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Holiday Time

It's Christmas time! Many countries around this world share this one moment in celebrating this special occasion; buying presents to give to the people they care for and share the presence with the people they love. As much as the reality tries to divide people by propaganda, war and tragedy, we have alot of similarity between faiths and cultures. Having to live in western and middle eastern countries, I realize we are much more similar in the joy of Christmas and New year than we think we usually are. When I lived in the Middle East, the locals held massive plans for these holidays with parties, dinners and shopping festivals and also spent it with people they knew. We may remind ourselves that these Middle Eastern countries have their own set of religious celebrations but there is one thing that some cultural and non-Christian countrieshave that ther rest don't do; and that is having holidays also for occasions for Christians in addition to the dominated religion of the citizens .
From my own experiences assimilating in the Iraqi community so far, I know many Iraqis of Muslim background who share this wonderful time of Christmas for the sake of it, not because of hiding religious differences. Its the pleasure and excitement of putting up a christmas lights and small simple christmas tree even though it may not be as good quality and good looking as Christian families' trees ;)
I have to say that Christmas has become so commercial in coincidence with New Year. Dont let these commercial priorities take over the real meaning of Christmas. Many countries unlike NZ are much more hectic as Christmas gets closer to the present time but for this country, Christmas has become a rather quiet and more peaceful time where families spend their summery Christmas on vacations rather than panicking on what to shop for presents. Many people of cultural background have their way of celebrating christmas and that's what makes it unique on how one spends the time during this period. What problem is there to apreciate one's self in correspondence to religious diversity? Being part of a Muslim community, we have organised to spend Christmas day on the coast beach for a barbeque and to me, it does not matter what Im celebrating as long as I can freely act upon my own religious priorities peacefully in addition. So I hope many of us have good plans set out for Christmas, New year's resolution and to enjoy the time during this holiday.