Vive Le Canada

Going Beyond the Stereotypes in Fallujah
Date: Monday, November 21 2005
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Going Beyond the Stereotypes in Fallujah

"The driver is afraid," our Iraqi friend said, "but I guarantee that by the end of the day his opinion will have changed."

The driver was nervous about going to Fallujah, a city that the Multinational Forces have attacked heavily over the past couple of years. The driver believed that the people in Fallujah (Sunni Muslims) were all fanatics, militants, supporters of Saddam. Still, the driver went with a couple members from the Christian Peace Team and several Iraqis from Muslim Peacemaker Teams who wanted to talk to people from Fallujah. After the driver had been there for the day, he was shocked that the people from Fallujah were nothing like he expected.


All cultures or countries demonize people. It is racist and dangerous, but in Iraq it is especially precarious. It contributes a lot to the already intense violence that paralyzes the country. Many Iraqis write each other off by sayings things like, "They are not educated... they are poor... they are from the north...from the south...they are Sunni... Shi'a...Kurdish...Palestinian." The list goes on.

An interpreter who works with us did not want to go to Sadr City. In the past he told CPT that the people there, who followed the Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, were poor and uneducated. They were not to be trusted. But after our interpreter spent the day in Sadr City with a couple CPTers and people from the area, he insisted that CPT go back soon. He felt that CPT needed to maintain a relationship with the city.

Some people say this polarization of Iraq is a strategy of the U.S. and its allies: divide and conquer--an ancient strategy of empires. Others say this is nothing new, it was a tension that brewed under the Saddam regime but people were too afraid to act upon it. Still others say that this is the way life has always been in the Middle East. Whatever the reason, most people do not see their rational as hurting the situation in Iraq, but as inflating and defending themselves. They say these things for their own comfort.

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