At Iraq Talks Back on Dec. 1, scholars and community members held a lively discussion about Iraqi social movements, the sources of the present crisis in the region and Iraqis’ reactions to the crisis at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).
The violence of war and its consequences in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq have caused thousands of refugees to leave their home.
Many media outlets and politicians talk about Iraq and Iraqis in a way that isn’t humanizing, as it’s usually about political conflict or violence instead of what they want and how they’re improving their circumstances, said Zeena Aljawad, an organizer of Iraq Talks Back.
“We want to fight back and say that Iraqis are making social justice movements for themselves and people in Iraq and on the ground,”Aljawad said. “People need to know there are Iraqis among them and we have been greatly affected by the situation in Iraq.”
Ali Issa was another speaker at the event and shared about his book, “Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq,” which is a combination of reports from and interviews with Iraqi feminists, protest movement leaders, environmentalists, and labor organizers.
Other speakers included Deobrah Al-Najjar, a co-editor of “We Are Iraqis,” which is a non-fiction and creative set by Iraqi academics, activists, and visual artists, and Yousef K. Baker, assistant professor of International Studies at CSULB, whose research is about the political economy of the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The speakers discussed how Iraqi organizers have joined to protest the present conditions of Iraq and how the invasion occupation in 2003 and 1990 have lead to this point in time.
“We are an immigrant community and it’s very important to know our immigrant counterparts and how they’re being affected here and how their families are being affected back home,” Aljawad said.