This blog post was written by IARP intern Allie Harris.
On an unseasonably warm winter day in Minneapolis, over 5000 people gathered to show love. The MN Caravan of Love was a march in solidarity with immigrants, refugees, and all those impacted by the new travel restrictions.
I am honored to have been a part of this event. We marched, we chanted, we wrote love letters, but most importantly we loved one another as neighbors, friends, and family. Along the two mile route, flowers, balloons, and letters were handed to local immigrants. The streets echoed with “No hate. No fear. Refugees are welcome here.” Halfway through the route, the group stopped to hear speeches by inspirational individuals from countries affected by the executive order. They told stories of tragedy and of hope. The march concluded on the University of Minnesota campus with a celebration including more speeches, singers, and dancers.
IARP has been grateful to partner with the Critical Needs Support Foundation (CNSF) on a Humanitarian Project for Peace to bring hygiene kits and sanitation products to IDP’s in Iraq. The recent kits were for the people of Mosul who have fled from IS (Daesh). The CNSF team are working tirelessly on the ground to identify and respond to those in need.
The most recent distribution consisted of:
68 hygiene kits in Al Haj Ali Village, south of Mosul, Ninewa Province
60 hygiene kits in Hamam Al Alil, south of Mosul near Al Qayyarah, Ninewa Province
270 Dignity Baskets in Alkhazer Camp, for displaced Iraqis feeling from Mosul (this distribution was funded in part by IARP and other humanitarian organizations).
The Dignity Baskets contained feminine hygiene products. The Hygiene Kits distributed in the villages each contained:
1x baby shampoo
1x lice shampoo
1x feminine hygiene kit
1x sponge pack for dish-washing
1x dish-washing liquid
1x plastic box
Here is a note from our partners at CNSF:
“Again, we thank you so much for your incredible support. You have helped us reduce risks to people’s health in a very simple but effective way. Disease can spread quickly, making an already difficult situation even more so. Most importantly, you are helping us protect their dignity.”
Thank you to EVERYONE for making the premiere of OUR IRAQ a success!
OUR IRAQ is the 14th film in the Iraqi Voices series. A team of 10 local Iraqis created this film with Nathan Fisher and IARP. OUR IRAQ begins with a sweeping overview of thousands of years of ethnic and religious coexistence in the cradle of civilization. The film then dismantles caricatures of Iraqis and Muslims in the United States — an Iraqi-American sculptor rebuilds what extremists have destroyed, Muslims pray at a Catholic church in Minneapolis, refugees own a St. Paul neighborhood grocery, and a public school administrator becomes the first Muslim woman to win an election in Minnesota.
This event was organized in collaboration with the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. It is part of their year-long series of public programming, “Global Minnesota: Immigrants Past and Present”, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Join us for the premiere of a documentary film written and directed by Twin-Cities based Iraqi refugees and Iraqi-Americans, followed by a discussion with Joseph Farag, Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature and Culture (UMN), and filmmakers. Reception to follow.
Iraqi Voices is a collaborative arts lab which gives Twin Cities-based Iraqis an artistic platform to share their stories. The new half-hour documentary in the Iraqi Voices series dismantles caricatures of Iraqis and Muslims in the United States ā€” Muslims pray at a Catholic church in Minneapolis, refugees own a St. Paul neighborhood grocery, and a public school administrator becomes the first Muslim woman to win an election in Minnesota. The films are photographed and edited by Nathan Fisher and produced by the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project.
This event is organized in collaboration with the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. It is part of their year-long series of public programming, “Global Minnesota: Immigrants Past and Present”¯, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Event is free, suggested donation $10
October 29th, at 2:00pm
F.K. Weyerhaeuser Auditorium
75 5th St, St Paul, MN 55102
Iraqi Voices is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
This event is co-sponsored by the The Advocates for Human Rights.
Excited as ever to be a part of this year’s Mizna Arab Film Festival!
Iraqi Shorts and Iraqi Voices at the Mizna Arab Film Festival on October 1 @ 1:00pm. The 2015 films will be screened as well as a sneak peak of our 2016 film. Q&A with filmmakers after screening. Come out and show your support for Iraqi filmmakers!
Learn more here.
It’s friendship via food- even better, via fried food. This past Sunday five American women and six Iraqi women came together in the kitchen to cook, eat, and form relationships. Our Iraqi friends taught us how to make delicious fried kebabs and laid out a full spread of vegetable toppings and Iraqi bread. And while the meal was delectable, the company was even better. Despite the language barrier, we discussed food, our differing marriage traditions, memories from Iraq, and our experiences raising a family, going to school, and managing a career. When it was time to go all of the participants exchanged phone numbers and a hope that the dinner would turn into a monthly event.
If you are interested in hosting or attending an Iraqi cooking class in the Twin Cities contact us at email@example.com
Also, check out the recipes we learned below!
Lamb and Ground Beef Fried Kebabs
1 kilo ground beef
1/2 kilo ground lamb
1 handful of each chopped:
onion (finely chopped)
Approximately 1- 1 1/2 cups flour
Two teaspoons of each:
salt to taste
Using your hands, thoroughly mix all ingredients. Dip hands in water to keep meat from sticking . Form into patties, logs or balls.
Add lots of oil to pan. Heat it up and when the oil bubbles, put the meat in.
Fry 1-2 minutes per side, or until each side gets brown or as well done as like.
Serve with vegetables and herbs such as: spring onions, sliced onions marinated in sumac, mint, cilantro, parsley, Iraqi pickles (see below!), green peppers, tomatoes!
Wrap in Iraqi bread and enjoy!
garlic cloves, crushed
Put your cucumbers into sterilized mason jars. In a pot, boil white vinegar, garlic cloves, salt, sugar, and other spices. Use about 1 cup vinegar, Ā¼ cup salt, and Ā¼ teaspoon sugar per 1 pound of cucumbers.
Feel free to experiment with different spice combinations/quantities, and different kinds of vegetables! You can also stuff your cucumbers with garlic, parsley, onion, and other spices.
Pour the boiled brine over the cucumbers until the jars are full. Seal the jars.
Once the pickles change color they will be ready to eat- this will take approximately one week.
Festival of Nations recap by IARP intern Jackie Myer.
As visitors entered the exhibit area, they to the festival were drawn to the beautiful blue replica of the Gate of Ishtar, the former eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. The gate was originally constructed in 575 BC by the order of King Nebuchadnezzar II, and was considered to be one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. The other side of the exhibit was decorated with a replica of shanasheel, an element of traditional Arab architecture. The projecting windows frequently used in houses and palaces to provide privacy are typically made from wood lattice, and the design attracted attention from visitors to the Festival who wanted to know more about the origins of the design. As visitors walked inside, they were able to see beautiful carpets and pillows, multiple tea sets, and various other decorations from local Iraqis. Children in particular were attracted to the large blue gate, and were often lined up outside the entrance waiting to get inside to receive a stamp in their passport and their name written in Arabic.
It was enjoyable to work at the exhibit with local Iraqis and listen to them tell stories and answer questions from children about Iraq, as well as laughing with them as I made (frequent) mistakes while attempting to speak Arabic. The Iraqis were eager to share the side of Iraq that is not usually portrayed on the news. When asked what they knew about Iraq, most children responded by saying, “there’s a war there, right?” but typically did not know anything else about the country. At the exhibit, we were able to teach them about Iraqi culture, typical foods in Iraq, and the Arabic language, as well as explaining the rich history of Iraq, which was often prompted by questions about the Gate of Ishtar. As people increasingly only hear about Iraq in the context of conflict, this opportunity to share the other side of Iraq with the community was invaluable and I hope that it opened their eyes to a richer, more complicated picture of Iraq than what they hear on the news.
On December 7th 2015, 140 community members came to Macalester College’s Ruth Stricker Dayton Student Center to view three new films in our Iraqi Voices series.
The films highlight the anti-corruption protests and demands for basic services occurring weekly in cities across Iraq, along with the dangers that middle-class Iraqi professionals continue to face as they attempt to rebuild their country. The directors included video footage of thousands marching in both Najaf and Baghdad each Friday, displaying a passion for justice and the yearning to reclaim Iraq for its people.
The directors and filmmakers answered questions both on the panel discussion following the films and afterwards at an informal reception. The Iraqi filmmakers gave audience members perspectives and facts we do not get from our American media.
Students, older activists, workers, parents and young children, Iraqis and a variety of other Minnesotans came to hear the culmination of Iraqi Voices III, the third year of documentary filmmaking by local Iraqis under the mentorship of Nathan Fisher, professional documentary filmmaker. These documentary shorts will be available on our website soon.
Films from Iraqi Voices I and II are online here.
Opportunities to support the development of the Iraqi Voices Program:
If you attended the premiere event, we would love your feedback to help improve the Iraqi Voices events in the future. Please click here to participate in a quick online feedback survey.
If you are interested in viewing the 2015 videos online and providing feedback for evaluation purposes, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
In November, eight women gathered for IARP’s first Iraqi cooking class. Many of us were meeting for the first time, but there seemed to be an instant sense of camaraderie, connecting over food and reconciliation. Our Iraqi cook, Azhar, was a gracious teacher and a wonderful cook. On our list of Iraqi dishes to learn were Kibbeh bi Riz (Rice Kibbeh), a mixture of rice and potatoes stuffed with spiced beef, and a Fattoush Salad, a flavorful salad tossed with fried pita and pomegranate molasses. We formed our small patties of rice and potato and set them on the platter as Azhar congratulated us on our efforts. With a smile she fixed many of them as she assured us it took years to perfect the technique. Our host for the night, Luanne, made chocolate chip cookies and gave the recipe and a bag of chocolate chips to Azhar to take home.
We ended the evening sitting around Luanne’s dining room table eating delicious food and in both Arabic and English shared our stories of how and why we were there that evening. Our first cooking class was a memorable evening of connecting over shared recipes, stories, and Iraqi and American food.
Here are the recipes:
5 cups Egyptian short-grain white rice. Soak for 15 minutes.
2 lbs halal ground beef
Cut 1 medium onion per pound of meat very fine
Brown meat with the onions. Do not add oil to meat. Cook meat until not pink, then simmer gently until all liquid is evaporated. Cool meat.
Add 1 tsp allspice, 1 tsp cardamom, 1 tsp turmeric to meat. Stir.
Boil water. When water is boiling hard, add drained rice. Make sue there is enough water to cover 3/4 inch over rice.
Add 1 tsp tumeric and at least 1 tablespoon salt to rice.
Keep heat high until rice gets to hard boil, then lower heat to simmer. It will take about 15-20 minutes.
When rice is done, cool until you can work it with your hand
Peel & cut 8 russet potatoes, boil, then mash without adding salt or pepper.
Add potato to rice in a 3 to 1 ratio.
Knead rice and potato together very well. Rice will disappear into the potato. Wet hands from time to time to keep mixture from sticking. Knead just as you would bread.
Form rice potato mixture into a golf-ball size ball. Knead and begin to flatten. Wet hands to keep from sticking.
Form a patty about 1/4 inch thick and about 3 inches across, with a well in it. Add about 1 T meat to well. Close up top like a purse, then roll into a ball. Flatten to a patty about 3/4 inch thick.
Heat vegetable oil hot, ,bubbling. Add patties, but not touching. Check and flip when golden on bottom.
Transfer to plate when golden on bottom.
Roast large purple eggplant, pricked in several places, at 400 degrees until very soft.
When cool, peel.
Mix in blender with 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp tahini, 1 tsp plain yogurt, salt to taste, juice of lemon to taste.
Chop tomato, cucumber, radishes, (could add chopped parsley and or a little lettuce.)
Dress with 1 clove Finely chopped garlic, mixed with lemon juice ( about 1/4 cup), 1/4 cup oil, 1 tsp pomegranate molasses, & salt to taste. Mix all, and dress salad.
Just before serving, fry small pieces of pita bread, toss into salad or sprinkle on top of salad
Enjoy! Sahtein (Arabic for two healths)!
Each year, generous supporters like you celebrate Give to the Max Day by making your online donation on GiveMN.org. Your generosity on this day makes a difference far beyond the 24-hour giving event.
Join us on November 12, 2015, for Give to the Max Day and help us continue to promote reconciliation between the people of the United States and Iraq.
Your donation on Give to the Max Day also may help us receive an additional donation of $1,000. How? On November 12, every gift made on GiveMN.org will be entered into an hourly drawing for a $1,000 GiveMN Golden Ticket to be awarded to a nonprofit organization. That adds up to 24 opportunities for you to help us receive an extra $1,000!
Here’s the really exciting part: One donation made on GiveMN.org will be randomly selected at noon and at the end of Give to the Max Day to receive a $10,000 Super-Sized GiveMN Golden Ticket!
This year, Give to the Max Day is a part of our larger Growing Reconciliation campaign. We are thankful to have raised $7,733 so far. Mark your calendars for November 12th and help us reach our $20,000 goal!
Keep your eyes out for matching gifts and one of a kind rewards! Find our page to donate by searching for IARP on GiveMN.org or click here.