Randam iftar, Iraqi and American Community Dinner 2017

Written on June 19, 2017, by

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!

 

Meet our Summer Intern: Allison

Written on June 15, 2017, by

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

Rebuilding the University of Mosul Library

Written on June 12, 2017, by

One book, one gift, at a time…

 

IARP is collecting books and donations to cover shipping costs to help with the rebuilding 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. University of Minnesota, Global Studies- TBA

4. Ship books (or mail donations) to IARP, 416 E Hennepin Ave Suite 116, Minneapolis, MN 55414

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 jessy@reconciliationproject.org.

Read more about the destruction of the library here.

See pictures of what is left of Mosul University here.
Read the article in the New Yorker here.

Our Iraq at the MSP International Film Festival!

Written on April 6, 2017, by

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 Human by Malka Al-Haddad

Written on March 27, 2017, by

I’m from a country at war
I am from a country that’s bleeding
A country of anger
And revolutions
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
Blue rivers
Red flowers
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?!

No choice
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

No job
no identification
no dignity.

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:
Homeland

No choice I came here

I’m here
but I’m not here

You are a refugee and
Your choice is not your choice

But remember…
I’m human
I’m human

 

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/

Public Syllabus on Immigration

Written on March 10, 2017, by

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.

New Travel Ban- Does not include Iraq

Written on March 6, 2017, by

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.

Iraqi Voices Screening at my school- Nicole

Written on February 28, 2017, by

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.

The Minnesota Caravan of Love

Written on February 15, 2017, by

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.

How to Protect Yourself in the Face of New Ban

Written on February 3, 2017, by

What we know about The Executive Order:

 

  • A ban on entry for 90 days of all immigrants and non-immigrants, for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This seems to be affecting US permanent residents (green card holders) as well
  • Stops most refugee admissions for at least four months: 120-day pause in refugee admissions to the U.S with exceptions permitted for those fleeing religious persecution if their religion is a minority in their country of nationality
  • Blocks refugees from war-torn Syria from entering the U.S. indefinitely.
  • Caps total refugee admissions for fiscal year 2017 at 50,000- less than half of the 110,000 proposed by the Obama administration

Click here for the full executive order text with annotations.

 

How to protect yourself:

 

  • If you are a non-citizen, even a green card holder (lawful permanent resident), it is recommended to not travel outside of the U.S. without consulting an immigration attorney during the 90-day period.
  • If you are a non-citizen, even a green card holder, and you leave the U.S. you will most likely be denied reentry.
  • If you are a green card holder and are outside of the U.S. fill out the USCIS G-28. It will officially appoint you an immigration attorney to represent you when you land. Have the form completed before boarding your flight. Here is link to the†G-28.
  • If you are a green card holder (lawful permanent resident) do not sign an I-407 at the airport or border. Instead ask for the supervisor who handles LPR admissions. If you sign the I-407, you will be giving up your green card. Here is a link to the I-407.
  • Do not hesitate to call an immigration attorney to understand your specific case. We recommend that you call CAIR number: (408-986-9874 or 415-848-7711)
  • Do not allow immigration officers in your home without a warrant. If they do have a warrant, make sure to have an immigration lawyer before speaking.

 

CAIR-MN’s 8 Know Your Rights Tips for travelers & immigrants:

 

  1. Do not leave the US if you are you here on a visa from the following countries Iraq Iran Libya Somalia Sudan Syria and Yemen
  2. Regardless of your immigration status contact CAIR are or a trusted immigration attorney before traveling outside the United States
  3. If you know of anyone traveling to the US have them contact CAIR our office or trusted immigration attorney near the airport of entry
  4. Do not submit any forms for immigration benefits without first contacting an attorney for review and guidance.
  5. Do Not speak with or sign any documents from law enforcements or any immigrants immigration officers without first contacting an attorney.
  6. Always carry valid immigration documents with you (ex.-green card or work permit).
  7. Keep copies of all your immigration documents in your car and at your home.
  8. Keep all foreign documents in a safe place and do NOT carry them with you.