Accessibility links

Iraqi-American families cope with the Iraq war - 2003-04-15


Iraqi Americans watched the war in Iraq with great emotion: anger for some, hope for others. Carolyn Weaver spent some time with two Washington-area families who both opposed Saddam Hussein’s regime, but whose views remain very different:

Physician Jamel Fadul [fah-DOOL] left Iraq 12 years ago, and met his wife Maha, [MA-ha] a computer expert, in Canada. They now live in College Park, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., where they followed television news of the war intensely. Despite their fear for family and friends in Iraq, they felt there was no alternative to the war.

MAHA FADUL
“So what’s the other way? We prayed there would be some [other] way, not the war.”

DR. JAMEL FADUL
“This is going to end a 35-year war that Iraq people are living in.”

NATURAL SOUND REPORTER
“What do you mean end a 35-year war?”

DR. JAMEL FADUL
“The 35-year war that Saddam Hussein when he came in power, and the Ba’ath regime came in power, they put the Iraqi people in war. And every day there is loss of life, either in his jails or they execute innocent Iraqi people for no reason. So 25 days of war, or 35 days of war to end this 35 years of war is justified.”

On the other side of Washington is a family who asked us to call them the Sima’ans, [sim AHNS] to protect their anonymity.

Sami left Iraq 35 years ago and was an activist in the West against the Saddam Hussein regime. His wife Linah is Palestinian. Badia [BAD-yuh] their daughter, is American-born.

Zaid [ZADE] Sami’s cousin, left Iraq in 1984. They all despised Saddam Hussein. But they also opposed the U.S. policy towards Iraq.

BADIA
“At what point do you stop ping-ponging the Iraqi people back and forth because of global political issues? There was a time we supported Saddam, and we like to not talk about that, while he was gassing the Kurds, while he was doing those things.

ZAID
“We gave him weapons.” SAMI SIMA’AN
“I personally have stood very strongly against the practices of Saddam Hussein. I have friends who lost their lives for this, but all of that does not justify in my view killing more Iraqis so that we’re going to ‘save you.’ That’s the reason why. You go now, and most Iraqis will tell you that we don’t like what Saddam has done to our country, but that doesn’t mean we’ll bring in foreign invaders.”

Dr. Fadul says that views like the Sim’ans ignore the present day realities of life in Iraq.

DR. JAMEL FADUL
“I think they left Iraq a long time ago and they are not in touch with what’s going on inside. And now this war, it shows that Iraqi people were paralyzed, they cannot do anything.”

NATURAL SOUND DR. JAMEL FADUL AND CHILD SPEAKING

Dr. Fadul fled Iraq when he was targeted for treating Iraqis injured in the failed 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein.

DR. JAMEL FADUL
“I saw that they killed 70 injured civilian people in the hospital. They put them all together and they shot them because they thought they were revolutionary people. I was followed just because I treated civilian people. I’m a physician. I didn’t fire any gun.”

Sami Sima’an says his life, too, was threatened for his activism against Saddam Hussein’s regime. But he is skeptical about the opposition groups now returning to Iraq.

SAMI SIMA’AN
“The fact of the matter is that aside from the Kurds and to some degree the Shi’ite, there is no proof that any of them have any base inside Iraq. The task of liberation is a very arduous task, building trust, building confidence, building processes, giving opportunities, raising hope. None of them has engaged in that.”

The Faduls are far more hopeful about Iraq’s immediate future – because they say, Iraq has many highly educated people who can remember their country before Saddam.

DR. JAMEL FADUL
“And they will take over the country, and move forward, and they rebuild the country in very short time.”

Both families are united on one point: they long to see their native land again, and plan to visit – and help - as soon as possible.

ZAID
“I really feel that most Iraqis who are sitting here, living abroad, living outside of Iraq need to do that. Because that is the only hope and that is the only link that Iraqis that are living there have.”

DR. JAMEL FADUL
“I have that feeling too because I think this is the time I have to support there, and to help injured people, to do some humanitarian help for them, and at the same time to counteract the brainwashing of Saddam Hussein to the Iraqi people, some of them, the young generation - to tell them different version of the real world.”

LINAH
“Yes, I wish we could join whatever we need to be with just to try to help rebuild the country again.”

XS
SM
MD
LG