Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, Looking out for Kurdish People

As reported by Allegra Stratton in New Statesman, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, first lady of Iraq, wants to show her people that they are better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein’s regime. Besides being married to the president, Hero has made a name for herself by being involved in many media outlets in Iraqi Kurdistan. “She doesn’t have a BlackBerry or talk about bull or bear markets, but she runs a TV station in Iraqi Kurdistan, edits newspapers and leads charities,” Stratton reports.

Hero first began her assent to a media empire in the mid 1980’s when an “Iranian friend gave her a video camera and she set about recording the everyday lives of Kurdish villagers under daily bombardment by Saddam.” Stratton reports that Hero showed Europe the tapes and was told that “her footage shook too much,” an excuse not to use her footage, Hero believes. At the time, Stratton says, “western governments were supporting Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war and weren’t interested in her evidence indicting their ally.”

As Stratton reports, “Hero lives half of every month in Iraqi Kurdistan, ‘among the people’ and the other half in Baghdad with the president.” This is a way for her to see what the people have to contend with everyday and the economic situation that they are faced with. Hero believes that “Iraq’s levels of unemployment have ‘exceeded all limits’ and swollen the ranks of extremists.”

While Hero is an avid supporter of women’s rights and has founded a number of Kurdish women’s organizations, “she does not necessarily believe that the development of Iraq is dependent on women,” Stratton reports. Stratton says that “people in the west have concerns about the south of the country, where women are reportedly forced to wear the hijab and threatened death if found playing sports,” yet Hero isn’t so concerned. To a young Iraqi woman who says her life is worse off than it was under Saddam, she would say, “Your life is not worse now,” Stratton reports.

Hero believes, Stratton says, that “Iraq needs to be given time to work things out.” Hero says, “the west thinks democracy is like a tablet, but it is a huge process.”

To read this article in full click here.


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