The Iraq Fiasco, 2003-2008 Life in Baghdad since the Fall of Saddam
Part 3: Journalist
NADA MAHDI SHUKUR, 47, Journalist
In Saddam's day I worked for Baghdad's only English-language newspaper, the Baghdad Observer. We were controlled by the Interior Ministry, and security people observed us constantly. But I was able to use my English. I spoke very well and interviewed many foreigners. That would be inconceivable today. It's dangerous to speak English on the street. It isn't because the Iraqis hate the language, although I do believe that the behavior of some Americans has created a rift between their army and our country. The political situation is atrocious. The religious leaders are mixing politics with religion. I believe that it's a sin to establish a party on the basis of religion. But this new religious fervor has taken hold of the entire country. We have too little education and too little freedom. It's especially difficult for women. I consider myself a broad-minded person. I am unmarried and have no children, and I am an intellectual. I studied art and design in Leeds, England. I had great talent. But what good does that do you when you're stuck in Iraq? For me, the happiest moment was when Baghdad was liberated from this dictator. The city began to flourish after that, and it was peaceful. But the occupation resulted in Sunnis and Shiites attacking each other, and in al-Qaida and former Saddam supporters joining forces. I live in Mansur, a mixed neighborhood. But even as a Sunni, I never feel safe there. Most residents are pro-Saddam. American and Iraqi troops often search the area. They also come to my house. I think this is good, in a certain way. It provides security. But there is often something missing after the searches: a camera, a watch, a mobile phone. It's very frustrating. I have wanted to sell my house and move to a different area for a long time.