IARP continues to be committed to challenging xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric and supporting an expanded understanding of one another. In order to meet the needs of our increased programming in 2017 and beyond, we are delighted to welcome Allie Harris to the IARP team as our part-time Development and Program Associate! Allie has her M.A. in Islamic Studies and has been interning with IARP since January of this year.
After finishing my M.A. in Islamic Studies from the University of Denver in Summer 2016, I moved to Minnesota and found the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project. I am so lucky to have IARP be my introduction to the Twin Cities. I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some amazing individuals and I find myself constantly inspired by the work of those around me.
Interning with IARP over the last seven months has been an incredible experience. The work I have done in our community has refreshed my passion for my field. In my time with IARP, there are a few moments that stand above the rest. In February, I was able to participate in a beautiful, peaceful march through the streets of Minneapolis in support of refugees and then write a blog about the event for our website. In May, I had the pleasure of attending the Festival of Nations. Thousands of people visited our booth, anxious to learn more about Iraq and I was excited to use this opportunity to practice my Arabic while writing visitors names. In June, I watched as Muslims and non-Muslims came together to celebrate Ramadan at our Iftar dinner. In a time when it is so easy to see the hate in this world, IARP has shown me the beauty of cultures coming together to learn about and accept each other. This is what I love most about this organization, and what I look forward to working towards more in the future.
Non-profit work is new to me and I am beyond excited to continue learning and growing with IARP. The love and respect I have gained for this organization drives me to work hard and I hope to bring this drive to my new position as Development and Program Associate. This is the first time IARP has hired a second employee and I am honored to continue my work with this organization. The directors, board, volunteers, and community members have been wonderful these last seven months and I look forward to working with all of you in the future; thank you for this opportunity.
Hello! My name is Abby Massell and I’m a senior at Macalester College studying International Studies, Political Science, and Arabic. I grew up in Burlington, Vermont and have had wonderful
opportunities to study and travel in Morocco, Jordan and Palestine.† At Macalester, I’ve spent my
time outside of academics singing in one of Macalester’s choirs and a cappella groups,
participating in Macalester Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, as well as advocating
for the admission of displaced students to Macalester alongside a dedicated group of peers. It
has been a pleasure spending my first summer in the Twin Cities getting to know places and
people beyond the Macalester neighborhood, aided in particular by my internship with IARP.
While I do not yet have plans for after graduation, I hope to find a career in advocacy and
education with a goal to equalize access for those in my local community as well as abroad.
At the beginning of June, and the beginning of Ramadan, we had the pleasure of celebrating an Iftar meal with 85 members of our community. This was our second time hosting the Iraqi and American Community Dinner, and the event more than doubled in size. Together, we raised $1,475 towards dignity projects for displaced Iraqis fleeing Mosul and our general mission.
The evening began with a wonderful presentation on Ramadan by Sumayah Ameen. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of prayer, fasting, and charity-giving to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the “five pillars” of Islam, and is performed to learn compassion, self-restraint, and generosity. Iftar is the evening meal at sunset when Muslims end their daily fast during Ramadan.
Next, several community members shared what Ramadan meant to them. As guests lined up to pile on plates (waiting until all could be served so that all could break fast together per tradition) the speaker played the “athan”, the traditional call to prayer. We broke fast together as a community at sunset on June 2nd, and with the large number in attendance, everyone worked together quickly to load up plates with dates, pita, kefta, and many other delicious dishes.
The night ended with a sneak preview of this year’s Iraqi Voices theater project, performed by Iraqi community members. We cannot wait until the full piece premieres this fall! Thank you for joining us for this year’s Iftar event, and if you were unable to attend we look forward to an even larger event next year. Ramadan Mubarak to all!
Hello, my name is Allison Brady. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to the Twin Cities two years ago to begin my studies at Macalester College. I am a Junior majoring in International Studies with a focus on environmental policy and Arabic. I am passionate about environmental and humanitarian issues in the MENA region, and interested in the field of refugee response. I am excited to work with an agency that leads community building here in the Twin Cities through exchange of dialogue, culture, and language, and supports humanitarian efforts in Iraq. I am particularly excited about People to People projects, as I have been a part of Interfaith dialogue communities for many years, and am committed to the healing potential of community exchanges. I speak French, am learning Arabic, and will be headed to Morocco next semester to begin a year of Arabic studies in the region. ‚Äč
One book, one gift, at a time…
IARP is collecting books and donations to cover shipping costs to help with the restocking of the destroyed university library in Mosul, Iraq. The library at the University of Mosul, among the finest in the Middle East, once had a hundreds of thousands of books, historic maps, and old manuscripts. During the occupation of Mosul, which began in June 2014, Islamic State members burned the city’s central university library. Once a treasure trove of Unesco-registered rare books, the central library of the University of Mosul is now full of ash. East Mosul is liberated from the Islamic State control and fighting in the western bank continues. The university is preparing to rebuild. Will you help?
We are raising funds to cover shipping costs. Donate here.
GOOD QUALITY Books in any language and of any genre are welcomed. We want to be a part of creating a credible resource center at one of the Middle East’s most important universities. The collection bins in the Twin Cities are located at the following drop off sites:
1. IARP office (416 E Hennepin Ave Suite 116, Minneapolis, 55414), Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30- 4:00pm.
2. Other drop off sites to be announced.
If so inclined, please consider making a financial donation here to help with shipping costs. If you want to set up a collection bin in your community please contact email@example.com.
Read more about the destruction of the library here.
Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project is proud to announce that our newest Iraqi Voices documentary, Our Iraq, will soon be featured at Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF). This local festival is hosted by the Minneapolis St. Paul Film Society.
If you would like to attend this event, tickets are on sale at mspfilm.org. The film will be screened April 15th at 11:40 am at St. Anthony Main Theatre in Minneapolis.
The short documentary was written and directed by Iraqi refugees in Minnesota as part of a collaborative art lab called Iraqi Voices. Our Iraq 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.
Our Iraq was also screened at the Vail Film Festival on March 31st. The Vail Film Festival, in Colorado, is celebrating its 14th year and will be honoring Golden Globe nominee Julie Deply as well as Emmy nominee Christina Ricci. More information about this festival can be found at http://www.vailfilmfestival.com.
I’m from a country at war
I am from a country that’s bleeding
A country of anger
A country of martyrs,
I’m from a country once called Mesopotamia
I’m from the land of black gold
I’m from the richest land on the earth
I’m from the land of sunshine on a golden desert
I’m from there
But I’m not there
I had beautiful dreams
I had friends, brothers, sisters, sweet parents and pink hopes…
I had green gardens, tall palms and olive trees
I had a warm winter
I was born on land before the crossing of swords on the body
Turned into a banquet table
Before Bush and Blair turned our rivers into blood
Then they donate us millions of tents instead of roofs for our houses
The rain has died in my homeland..
They left graves in the green grass in our fields
Only cacti remain laughing in the barren desert
The sun has become ashamed behind the clouds
Where is God ?
Has even God became a refugee in His land ?!
Where is our ancient law?!
Even this been stolen?!
I crossed the seas of death
Waves of grief have led me here
To the land of my usurpers in an old and narrow shelter
The victim cannot judge its executioner
I now speak in two languages, but I have forgotten in which one I used to dream
I have learned all the words to take
the lexicon apart for one noun’s sake,
The compound I must make:
No choice I came here
but I’m not here
You are a refugee and
Your choice is not your choice
Malka Al-Haddad is an Iraqi poet, academic and defender of Human Rights and has lived in Britain since 2012. She is a member of the Union of Iraqi Writers and was one of the first delegates to the US for the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project. She is an activist with Leicester Civil Rights Movement: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/malka-al-haddad and has presented her academic paper Political Changes and their Impact on Iraqi Women at LSE in 2015 https://brismes2015.wordpress.com/panel-5d-politics-gender-and-nostalgia-in-contemporary-iraq/
In January of 2017, scholars, in association with the Immigration History Research Center and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society at the University of Minnesota, published a public syllabus on immigration. The syllabus is based on “Essential topics, readings, and multimedia that provide historical context to current debates over immigration reform, integration, and citizenship.”
There is no specific class following this syllabus, rather it is geared toward educators and any individual interested in learning more about immigration issues and history.
The syllabus follows the basic semester long structure and has weekly topics. The topics are in chronological order beginning in colonial America and covering through present day. Each week has a list of readings, primary sources, and multimedia links such as documentary films. The syllabus gives instructions on how to view all of these materials.
The University of Minnesota hopes that making this syllabus open to the public will help educators, activists, and concerned citizens learn more about the issues. They also hope that these resources will “assist policymakers who seek to avoid the mistakes of the past.”
Anyone interested in learning more about immigration and citizenship can view the syllabus here.
Today, Monday March 3rd, Donald Trump signed a new executive order to replace the travel ban of January 2017. The new travel ban will take effect on March 16th.
A few key factors were revised between the two executive orders. The immigration ban signed on March 3rd only restricts immigration from six countries: Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Iraq was removed from the list after the U.S. State Department spoke with the Iraqi government about improving methods of vetting Iraqis before entrance into the U.S. No specific changes to the vetting process were published.
Much like the original immigration ban, the new document states that citizen of the six countries will not be able to obtain visas for 90 days.
There will also be a suspension of refugees entering the U.S. for 120 days. Syrian refugees are included in the 120 day ban, as opposed to the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees proposed in the original travel ban.
The stated goal of this new executive order is to supposedly improve the vetting process of immigrants into the U.S. In fitting with this goal, the order allows for extending the ban beyond the six countries listed. It states that the Department of Homeland Security will have 20 days to review the identity and security information that all countries provide to U.S. officials. If the Department of Homeland Security determines more information is needed from specific countries, those countries will then be given 50 days to update or improve the information given to the U.S. government. If those countries do not comply, more travel restrictions may be added.
Written by IARP intern Nicole Rash
The Iraqi Voices’ film, Our Iraq, was screened at the University of Minnesota and hosted by he Immigration History Research Center. There were about 60 students and faculty present at the event.
The 20-minute documentary was followed by a discussion with audience members. The discussion was led by Assistant Professor Joseph Farag, an expert of Arabic Literature and Culture at the University of Minnesota. The discussion started with him describing his reactions and the process of developing this film. The producers of the film wanted to showcase the Iraq’s rich culture and history, not the Iraq portrayed in today’s media. Next, the students were able to ask questions. Students were curious about the size of the Iraqi community here in Minneapolis as well as the location of the biggest Iraqi community in the United States. In addition, people wanted further elaboration on the intentions of the filmmakers because the process was so passionate.
While I was walking around the room taking a few pictures, I was noticing that everyone seemed engaged and interested in this topic and the community. Students asked for more information about where to find the video to show their friends. This showed that people wanted to spread the word about Iraqi culture and wanted to be involved locally.
We ended the† discussion with reactions. Students were surprised with the depth and richness of Iraq’s history and culture. While some students thought that some of this culture has been lost due to the wars, others believed that the Iraqi culture has been resilient and continues to thrive.
I was so happy to be a part of an event that highlighted the beauty of Iraqi culture, and to be able to share that understanding with my peers.It was clear to me that people enjoyed the film, especially the grocery store scene.