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memri
February 19, 2009 No.
2250

Obama Election Gives Hope to Iraqi Blacks Who Are Still Treated as Slaves

Following are excerpts from a TV report on blacks in Iraq, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on February 6, 2009:

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"People Call Me 'Slave'"

Reporter: "People still call them slaves in an age in which the world's loftiest palaces have collapsed. Their great suffering includes many forms of oppression of men by their fellow men, who use them as tools. They were not permitted to own land, and used to work for the feudalists. They constitute a substantial percentage of Iraqi society. Most of them live in Basra, in south Iraq.

Jalal Diyab, Secretary of the Iraqis' Free Movement: "The blacks were, and still are, marginalized and excluded from society and politics. Blacks are still viewed as inferior slaves. This view has been passed down through the generations. A black person is viewed as someone of lesser value, of lesser importance, as if he were a useless object, which nobody considers important. Even politicians, writers, and researchers pay no attention to black people and to their issues."

[...]

Iraqi: "People call me 'slave' or 'black.' There is no respect, no appreciation. Who is responsible for this? The large families. Take, for example, those children. They chase you, calling: 'You black,' and whatever. It's not nice."

Interviewer: "What do white people usually call you?"

Iraqi: "They always call us 'slaves.'"

Interviewer: "They still do that?"

"When Obama Won The Elections, We Began To Hope That One Day, We Would Have... A Black Official in Any Position"

Iraqi: "The most common thing – and I get it all the time – is that when there is an argument with them, they immediately say: 'Go away, you slave.' We are all slaves of Allah. The only thing they know how to say is: 'Go away, you slave.' Yesterday, I came from Baghdad, and when it was my turn to get in, the driver said: 'Not only are you black, but you are also trying to push ahead.' What is this? Is your God white and mine black? I'm surprised people use such terms."

[...]

"When Obama won the elections, we began to hope that one day, we would have a [black] president – not necessarily the president of the country, but a black official in any position."