BuzzFlash Interviews Riverbend

The interview of the author of Baghdad Burning is fascinating—sad, hopeful, informative, scary. Certainly a different perspective than we get from our own media.
The White House makes it very simple when talking about the insurgency -- foreign, Islamic terrorists. It's hardly that simple. I guess most Iraqis believe there is resistance and there is terror. Resistance is coming from various sources -- former Iraqi army people, Islamists, Ba'athists, nationalists and ordinary people who hate this new way of life Iraqis are being relegated to. Terror is also coming from various sources and in many cases it is a complete mystery. Many people believe the attacks against the police force and security forces are the work of outsiders or people who want Iraqis to hate the resistance. It's difficult to tell at this point just what is going on.
The lack of nuance, and level of certainty, in the news we receive about the insurgency is startling. Iraqis aren’t always sure of its exact source, but know its origins are manifold. Conversely, we’re told that the source is singularly foreign, Islamic extremists, with such certainty as to suggest a definitive answer. There is clearly no sense on the part of this administration that no information is better than bad information, and so we are left with an ill-informed populace, who, if not totally ignorant, are deeply misinformed.
I have fears of fundamentalism of any type. I fear Sunni fundamentalism and Shia fundamentalism. I fear we might be slowly working our way towards a state run by Mullahs and clerics. I fear Iraq being turned into another Iran by parties like Da'awa and SCIRI, currently being promoted by the occupation powers. It is not Islam that I fear -- I am a Muslim and a practicing one -- it is the deformation of Islam practiced in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia that I fear.
It strikes me that in addition to the violent, physically catastrophic war the Iraqis must suffer, they are compelled to combat a culture war of the same tenor against which we struggle here. While the administration bungles Iraq, turning it into a breeding ground for Muslim extremists, who use their religion as a justification for the oppression of others, back at home, the GOP-led executive and legislative branches continue their assault on the judiciary, on gay rights, on reproductive rights, on civil liberties, on free and fair elections, on the environment, etc., using their religion and twisted definitions of patriotism as their own justification.

If the growth such fundamentalism is not curtailed in both Iraq and the US, Bush’s legacy may well be of a president under whose watch radical extremists of two different religions found new homes in two different parts of the world, undermining the future of two different countries.

Read the whole interview. Riverbend has a lot more to share.

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