Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Friday, June 19, 2015

Iraqi culture and Iraqi Jews

The BBC Arabic did a little dialogue at the end of May about the state of Iraqi arts and the cultural scene.

They are having a hard time because, as this man says, people like Daa-esh (ISIS) don't like things like music and books and art.

"The Middle East is crazy right now, culture is trying to defend itself from Daa-esh and all the militias."

And besides, there's been so much war and devastation it can be hard to think about pure, beautiful things. One of the Iraqis in the conversation said: 'Being cultured in Iraq is like combing your hair when you're bald'.

This is, I think, one of the scenes of devastation that makes it so hard to get beyond:

This man interviewed at a book market said that Iraqi arts have lost their voice. It has been affected by the religious and political challenges, and these days people are religious rather than exploring the cultural side of things.

Amazingly, they also interviewed a man from the Iraqi military. I didn't catch if this was just his philosophy, or if this is the official position of the Iraqi military, but he said that 'we need culture' in our lives, it's very important for our society.

And here is a concert that the military was holding:

And then they talked about how when there is so much war and unhappiness, people feel like they are being shallow if they enjoy music and art (again, like combing your hair when you're actually bald.)

People feel like they can't deal with cultural things, because it's so far below what is going on.

One old man said: I believe there's a group of young Iraqis trying to stay with music and books. I believe and trust in them, and that they can improve the politics.

The next day, the BBC Arabic was talking about Iraq again, this time about how there are so many divisions in society. So this old man came and was talking about how Iraq used to be, before the second World War:

He said that in those days, Iraq had many Jewish people among its population, and they lived in all parts of the country, from the north to the south. And they did not live in ghettos like in Europe. Other Iraqis would buy kosher from them. The Jews and the Muslims were living side by side.

But as we all know, these days are over; that ship has sailed.

Another person in the conversation was asked: do you think that Iraqi could go back to all the minorities living together in peace?

The answer: Yes, but not soon. Because Daa-esh has ruined things. It will need a long period of healing first.

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