Iraqi sculptor who replaced Saddam statue says Bush is even worse

This video is called Stage Managing Toppling of Saddam Statue.

“The entire event is being hailed as an equivalent of the Berlin Wall falling… but even a quick glance of the long-shot photo shows something more akin to a carefully constructed media event tailored for the television cameras.”

From Reuters:

Iraqi artists and comedians work from Syrian exile

Thu Jul 5, 2007 6:54am ET136

By Tom Perry

DAMASCUS – Basim Hamed crafted shrapnel from car bombs into a memorial to 34 children killed by an attack in Baghdad.

When the sculpture was destroyed and he received death threats, Hamed knew it was time to leave for Syria.

“In Baghdad there are only killers and victims. I cannot be a killer and I don’t want to be a victim,” he said.

Hamed, one of a generation of Iraqi artists and writers who spread their creative wings after the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, says tyranny was replaced by an even more oppressive order.

“It is worse — with great regret and as much as we hated that regime,” said the 34-year-old, sculptor of the statue that replaced the towering Saddam figure toppled by U.S. troops in Baghdad.

Sitting at a cafe in a Damascus market, he reflected on his hopes for Iraq at that time. Nine months into exile, he says he finds peace of mind only when working with clay.

“My work now is a reflection of what I saw, lived and heard in Iraq, and very rarely reflects the dreams I held for that place.”

Part of an exodus of more than a million Iraqis to Syria, artists, filmmakers and writers are seeking to document their country’s woes from Damascus, hoping they can influence opinion at home for the better.

“I have the material for 100 films burned into my memory,” said Hayder Daffar, a filmmaker also driven from Baghdad by death threats and the relentless violence.

More Iraq war: here.

20 thoughts on “Iraqi sculptor who replaced Saddam statue says Bush is even worse

  1. End the War: Watch Kelly Dougherty, Garett Reppenhagen, Camilo Mejia
    Posted by: “Charles Jenks” chaspeace
    Thu Jul 5, 2007 10:05 am (PST)

    Iraq Veterans Against the War members Kelly Dougherty, Garett Reppenhagen, Camilo Mejía, Chanan Suárez Diaz and Martin Smith spoke on IVAW’s strategy to end the war against Iraq at the Socialism 2007 conference in Chicago on June 16. These talks started off a 2-part, 3 hour Roundtable – Iraq: the Soldiers’ Rebellion – by IVAW veterans.

    All recounted their personal stories of their military experience and how they became part of the veterans’ antiwar movement.

    Kelly Dougherty, Executive Director of IVAW and a co-founder, gave a slide presentation on IVAW’s strategy to end the war, based on IVAW’s “Consent Theory of Power.” This video clearly shows IVAW’s theory and practice for ending this tragic war by weakening support by the military, as well as other pillars of support, such as the public, Congress and the media.

    We’ve started with 5 videos of the main speakers, and will follow with videos of the commentators, including Carlos Arredondo (who lost his son in Iraq), Juan Torres (who lost his son in Afghanistan), war resister Agustin Aguayo (just released from 8 months military confinement), Patty McCann (IVAW), Ashley Smith (International Socialist Organization), and, from the Warrior Writers Project, Drew Cameron and Aaron Hughes, plus wrap up comments from the 5 main speakers.

    All websites are invited to embed these and following videos on their sites. We’d appreciate it if sites would simply let us know that they are embedding the videos. If any sites have difficulty embedding the code, we’d be happy to help you trouble shoot problems. Contact:

    YouTube Channel:

    YouTube links:

    Kelly Dougherty (20:42 minutes)


  2. Iraqi becomes poster boy of another sort

    By Brigid Schulte

    The Washington Post
    May 13, 2009 – 12:00 am

    The walls of the little brick suburban house where Nazaar Joodi lives with his family are adorned with framed photos from his first visit to this country. Here he is shaking hands with Colin Powell. There he is embracing Paul Wolfowitz. And, clasping Joodi by the arm, a grinning George W. Bush offers his “Best Wishes.”

    In spring 2004, Joodi was celebrated on Capitol Hill, at the Pentagon and at the White House as a “living martyr” of the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein, who had ordered Joodi’s right hand chopped off and his forehead branded with an X for the crime of trading U.S. dollars. At a time when explosive photos of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib had just surfaced and public opinion had turned solidly against the war, Joodi was held out as proof that invading the country and ousting Saddam had been the right thing to do.

    But now Joodi, who immigrated to Virginia on the possibility of a new life he saw in that visit, has more pressing matters on his mind: Should he swallow his pride and ask the local government for a homeless shelter for his wife and four children or pack it in and return to Iraq?

    As he considered his options, Joodi’s $50,000 “bionic” arm, a gift from U.S. business executives on his first trip, lay at his feet. A wilted American flag hung outside the living room window. Joodi, frail-looking at 45, rubbed the stump from his amputated right hand.

    “Coming here was a mistake,” said his wife, Shaymaa Mohammad, 34. “Everyone says, ‘You’re Bush’s friend. . . . What has he done for you?’ How can I tell them that this friend sends me to a homeless shelter? There is no friendship here.”

    For Joodi, being homeless is a shameful sign of his failure to provide for his family. Being a one-handed dollar trader is not an easily transferable job skill; he’s had no luck finding work. Joodi has gotten help from his younger brother, a taxi driver in Switzerland, in paying the $1,500-a-month rent and has leaned on Iraqi friends at his mosque. But his brother is tapped out, and now Joodi is behind. He decided to call his social worker.

    “Is there any other way?” he asked in Arabic. “I’m a friend of America. I met George Bush, Colin Powell, other people at the White House. Doesn’t that matter?”

    It does not, the social worker said. She gave him a number for a shelter waiting list.

    The struggle of newly arrived refugees in the United States has always been difficult. But now, with a refugee system that hasn’t changed in 30 years, a failing economy and an influx of thousands of Iraqi refugees, advocates say many Iraqis are being resettled into institutional poverty. In the past, a lone refugee with mental illness would wind up homeless every few years, they said. Now, a “staggering” number of recent refugees – one-third of them Iraqi – are at risk, like Joodi, of being evicted.

    Every year, International Rescue Committee helps about 4,000 refugees find work with the goal of becoming self-sufficient within six months of arriving. In recent years, almost three-fourths were. But in the last quarter of 2008, only half were self-sufficient.

    For years, advocates argued that the United States had a moral obligation to accept more of the 2.2 million Iraqis who fled the country after the 2003 U.S. invasion. For the first four years of the war, the United States accepted fewer than 800 refugees; Sweden, in the same period, resettled 18,000.

    In 2004, Joodi and six other dollar traders who had been imprisoned and tortured by Saddam in the 1990s were granted emergency visas and flown to the United States; Continental Airlines donated tickets. Doctors in Texas donated services to repair the badly amputated arms, and businesses gifted each man with a prosthetic arm.

    They were featured in two documentary films, sat on panel discussions and were sought after by politicians.

    “The whole story became politicized,” said Don North, a Virginia filmmaker who produced both documentaries. “Conservatives seized on their story as proof of what a terrible man Saddam was and that it justified our invasion.”

    In subsequent campaign speeches, Bush repeatedly mentioned the handless Iraqi men who visited him in the White House.

    Back in Baghdad, Joodi proudly hung his photo with Bush in his money exchange shop. Soon after, thieves broke in, twice, killed his security guard and stole $150,000. His house was bombed, burying his infant son under a pile of rubble and leaving a visiting neighbor a pile of shredded flesh in the courtyard. His son survived.

    He had one thought: Life in America would be better.

    It’s not as though he has received no help. The family is enrolled in Medicaid and gets $935 a month in food stamps and $570 in welfare benefits. Fairfax County, Va., pays for a taxi to take Joodi to English and job-training programs, although a teacher said he misses classes because his wife and son have been ill.

    What the family can’t do, Joodi said, is pay rent. “If we go back to Iraq,” he said, “at least we’ll have our dignity.”

    Joodi sat staring at the phone number for the homeless shelter. He trudged out to the taxi waiting to ferry him to his job-training session at Ross Dress for Less.

    He would already be one hour late. All afternoon, using the stub of his arm like a hanger, he loaded it with women’s purses in his somewhat befuddled attempt to sort the disorganized racks of merchandise.

    He couldn’t bring himself to call the homeless shelter.

    By Friday, his choice was no clearer. He returned home from English class, where he has yet to progress beyond rudimentary greetings, and, staring at the photos of his famous friends, waited for his life to somehow get better.


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