Iraqi Peace Activist Forced to Change T-Shirt Bearing Arabic
On a trip back from the Middle East, Iraqi blogger and activist Raed Jarrar was not allowed to board a flight at JFK airport because he was wearing a T-Shirt that said "We will not be silent" in English and Arabic. Airport security forced him to change his T-Shirt saying wearing it was like "going to a bank with a T-Shirt reading 'I am a robber.'" [includes rush transcript] In Iraq at least 20 people were killed and more than 300 injured on Sunday in attacks on Shiite pilgrims gathering for a mass religious festival in Baghdad.
The shootings occurred despite heavy security measures imposed by US and Iraqi forces that included a weekend driving ban in the capital. About 1,000 people were killed during the Shiite holiday last year when rumors of a suicide bomber triggered a stampede.
The killings on Sunday highlighted tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims that is claiming about 100 lives a day in Iraq and stoking fears that the country is moving towards a full-blown civil war. In July alone, the Baghdad morgue reported more than eighteen hundred violent deaths.
In a sign of how routine the killings have become, the US military reported "relatively little violence" following Sunday's attacks.
Earlier this month, a delegation of peace activists from the United States met with Iraqi parliament members in Amman Jordan to discuss issues concerning Iraq's reconciliation plan as well as the withdrawal of US troops. The delegation met with representatives of the largest Shia and Sunni groups as well as with religious leaders and human rights organizations.
We speak with Raed Jarrar, the Iraq Project Director for Global Exchange about his trip to the Middle East. But first he talks about how he was barred from boarding a flight at JFK airport because he was wearing a T-Shirt bearing Arabic script.
* Raed Jarrar, Iraq Project Director for Global Exchange. He is an Iraqi blogger and architect. His runs a
popular blog called "Raed in the Middle."