A different view of Iraq, and America.
March 14, 2007 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Sami Rasouli is an Iraqi-American who was born in Najaf . He left Iraq in the late 70's to teach, first to the UAE, and then to Germany. In 1986, he moved to the US, where he eventually opened Sinbad's, a successful restaurant. In late 2003, he went back to Iraq after learning his mother had died. Upon his return to the US, he could not stop thinking about the country he left, and the state it was in, so in 2004, he sold his restaurant and moved back. There, he founded the Muslim Peacemakers Team, based closely off of the Christian Peacemakers Team (and in fact was a friend of Tom Fox). He currently lives in Iraq, although comes back to visit the US every year or so, to raise awareness, visit friends, and to share news about what is really going on in Iraq. [Links to Articles, E-mails, and Interviews inside.]
posted by wander (7 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If any of you are in, or happen to drop by, the Twin Cities and enjoy Middle Eastern food, I recommend that you stop by at Sinbad's (sorry, they don't have a website). While Sami does not own it anymore, it is still there, and Hayat, who was the main chef while Sami owned the place (and is also a wonderful person) is still cooking. They are one of the only places in North America that still make their pitas by hand.

Disclaimer: I do not work for Sinbad's, although my family and I have been guests there for a long time. I have an enormous respect and admiration for Sami, but have not had the chance to tell him that in person yet. So this post is my way of showing that, in a small way, and letting more people know about the work he's doing.

He is currently back in the US, and is doing various speaking engagements in both the Twin Cities possibly other parts of the US.

Read some of his e-mails here, sent to St. Joan of Arc's Church:
Building a Bridge...this time to Iraq. An overview.
December 19, 2004 - A Letter from Sami
January 13, 2005 - Visiting a Refugee Camp
January 21, 2005 - A 2nd Refugee Camp Visit
April, 2005 - Tarmiya: The Silent Agony. Part II.
April/May, 2005 - Late April in Iraq
Mid 2005 - Made a short visit back to the US and spoke at the church.
September, 2005 - Return to Iraq
September 2005 - A Guest Column by Sabah Ali
December 2005 - Pictures of the MPT, CPT, and Tom Fox.
December 2005 - Sami's Election Thoughts
January 2006 - Late January in Iraq
In February, Sami returned to the US and spoke at St. Joan of Arc.
Note: I can't seem to find anything else from 2006. The website isn't very easy to navigate or well-organized, so hopefully I didn't miss them.
January 2007 - Sami Rasouli From Iraq

Watch some interviews, from Alive in Baghdad (previously).
From November 25, 2005.
About the History of Sunni and Shia in Iraq (mov) (Google Video)
Sami's opinion on the "resistance" elements in Iraq (mov) (Google Video)
Sami talks about the prospects for civil war in Iraq (mov) (Google Video)
From September 01, 2006:
Anniversary of a Tragedy (mov) (not up on Google Video)

Two profiles from Minnesota Public Radio:
From January 2004.

From January 2007 (with audio).

Various Radio Interviews:
From the March 19, 2006 Spirit in Action.
From the April 15, 2006 It Takes a Village (Starts around 8:50. Commercial and then continues at 18:25).
From the January 11, 2007 Democracy Now! (transcript included).

Various Articles:
From April 2005: A writeup on one of his talks.
From May 2005: Shi'a Muslims Join Sunni in Fallujah Cleanup
From June 2005: Back from Iraq, Still Working for Peace
From November 2005: In Iraq, These Peacemakers Shun Guns
From April 2006: Local Iraqi-American Provides Unimbedded View of the "New Iraq"
From January 2007: Sami Rasouli, Back from Iraq Says U.S. is Impeding Peace (may require bugmenot)
posted by wander at 9:28 PM on March 14, 2007

That first link is fascinating. It's like a mundane travelogue except for the anything but mundane Iraq.
posted by srboisvert at 3:00 AM on March 15, 2007

Nice post. Brave man.

January 11th, 2007: SAMI RASOULI: Thank you, Amy, and good to hear your voice and part of your program here in Najaf. Actually, Amy, for the last four days, I couldn’t get a shower, because there is no electricity, there is no heating, so water’s so cold in this harsh winter in Iraq, because Iraq has a continental climate that’s very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. So as I speak to you, I really stink. And as the increasing prices in the economy that’s collapsing stink and the Iraqi government policy stinks, even the American policy, that so-called surge in Iraq, stinks, too, because, as you know and Iraqis know and the others, that the occupation is a form of war. So any escalation in this type of war, the resistance is going to escalate, too.

January 24, 2007: Rasouli, who spoke from the Najaf home of one of his sisters, says conditions in Iraq are at a low point.
"The infrastructure is literally destroyed, no production facilities running. Employment is running between 60 to 70 percent and rising," he says.
Rasouli says people go for a week without bathing with hot water. There's food, but sickness from tainted food is common. He says what were once fully equipped hospitals, capable of handling all kinds of health problems, have been reduced to clinics handing out pain pills.
"They don't have the right equipment, it has been looted or damaged or violated. It's so gruesome, the picture."

posted by Turtle at 3:01 AM on March 15, 2007

Great post, thanks wander.
posted by Drexen at 12:57 PM on March 15, 2007

This is a wonderful post. More helpful than months worth of newspaper articles from non-Arabic speaking journalists.
posted by ferdydurke at 1:56 PM on March 15, 2007

Interesting post. Thank you. Maybe some of the news affiliated mefites will start contacting Sami so that Americans and westerners in general can get to know more about how the civilians are trying to survive and the atrocious social conditions that exist so many years after "mission accomplished".
posted by adamvasco at 4:14 AM on March 16, 2007

I doubt if many people come here anymore but this recent article from the Observer about The good land turned bad gives a more in depth view four years down the road from when this nightnare began.
posted by adamvasco at 6:58 AM on March 18, 2007

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