“I’m Fed Up with Radicals”

by Taameem Almaliki, Project Nur Coordinator at American Islamic Congress

It has been a while since I have written something meaningful in English. I usually write for a school assignment but I decided that I would like to write about my experiences living in Iraq. Recently, my office decided to launch a new campaign called “Voice Against Radicalism.” (#VoicesAgainstRadicalism) Others in the world are suffering from violence and radicalism. My experience living with violence committed by radical groups in Iraq is why I immigrated to the US.

Radicalism has ruined lives, displaced people, and created chaos in our world. It is a form of anger–unbelievable anger that targets innocent people. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are destructors. They want to negatively change the whole world and have influenced others around the world to their cause – even as far as Australia!

People in Iraq were fighting ISIS alone for a while until President Obama decided to send help. The democratic change that we aimed for in Iraq to get rid of the radical Saddami /Baathists regime ended up in crisis this summer. The democratic government in Iraq did not have a strong army to protect the country and this allowed ISIS to invade the north of Iraq. I traveled to Iraq to visit family for two weeks to celebrate Eid in July because I thought this could be the last Eid where I could visit my family.

Sometimes revolutionary movements can encourage radicalism. I was a child in the 1980’s and I remember learning the Arabic word for “Everything is for the Battle” in the first grade. Learning that we should all fight a war against Iran at six years old to protect the Baath Revolution was frightening.

Another radical movement erupted when then dictator, Saddam Hussein, decided to invade Kuwait. At that time I lost five family members to the war and through punishment by Saddam’s extreme radical government. Due to sanctions against Saddam’s intervention in Kuwait, we were living in poverty. We experience other hardships and the country was no longer safe. It is not easy to live your life under radicalism and violence!

When Saddam’s regime fell, I was among the many Iraqis who thought that it was over and we would live a happy and peaceful life. Ten years later, I realized that we are just victims of radicalism. It started with a radical government that ruled Iraq with force and extreme practices. A new group of radicals who are not happy with the new government replaced Saddam. They sought help from other radical groups in the region to get rid of the new government and to bring back the Baath Party, who they believe should govern Iraq.

You do not know what could happen to you in Iraq after 2003, especially if you supported democratic change. You could be kidnapped, killed, assassinated, forced to immigrate, displaced, injured, or lose your future and your country and your family forever. Innocent civilians in Iraq have faced extreme change and have been targets of violence and radicalism for almost 11 years. In 2004, my cousin was standing in front of our house when he was shot from an unknown bullet in the air because different groups were fighting each other in the south. Extremists in our city assassinated my brother with 23 Kalashnikov bullets because they were not happy he supported democratic change. My coworker was assassinated for her work in establishing a women’s center. She had two daughters and a Ph.D in English.

Organized crime has evolved into radicalism. We hear slogans such as “the Baathists are coming back” and that radical groups in Iraq will come take over. Iraqi refugees are everywhere. In 2003, people affiliated with the previous regime left the country. In 2007, people left because the current government was weak and could not protect civilians or protect itself. Recently, the new government has asked civilians to help fight against ISIS. During my last visit to Iraq in July 2014– after seven years away from family–I noticed many civilians coming home from war with ISIS. Many are injured or killed in this war against extremism but there is no mention in the media that innocent people in Iraq and Syria are currently fighting and dying in this war.

ISIS recently killed 1,700 innocent Iraqis in a massacre near Speicher military base. I do not know when this bloodshed will stop. I do believe that ISIS will be defeated – but how and when? To what extent should people continue to be victims of extremism and radicalism? When will rational people govern our world?

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of American Islamic Congress or any employee thereof.