April 17, 2007
Baghdad Blogger Salam Pax: Part 2

Salam Pax

Watch the program: Part 1 | Part 2

This week's program features "The Battle for Women’s Rights in Baghdad" and "Making It Rich in Baghdad."

The first thing that has to be said about these two films is that they were made more than a year ago. Things were not as gloomy, I felt safer while filming and there was still a general sense of optimism in the air.

In my opinion, we rarely get to hear the voice of Iraqi women in the news that comes out of Iraq. Most of the time they are just figures dressed in long black robes in the background of bombing scenes. In "The Battle for Women's Rights" I wanted to show that we had and still have women who are feisty and will stand up for their rights.

The focus for me was an activist my mother had been watching on various local programs and made me watch one night. With her confrontational style she was like a prizefighter delivering punches. Unfortunately for her, and us really, her head-on collisions with political and religious figures meant that she made more enemies than friends and when the death threats became too loud to ignore she had to leave Iraq.

The other highlight was the couple of days I filmed at the Baghdad School of Ballet. You need to understand how chaotic life in Baghdad is to appreciate what the dance tutors were able to achieve for these kids inside the school walls. It was an oasis of calm and beauty.

There aren't many places like this in Baghdad anymore and what they had in this school was only achievable through the virtually heroic efforts of women who decide to leave the madness of our lives out of the dance studios. The school is still open but neither the boys nor the girls stay more than the age of 12. Many have been transferred to regular schools closer to their homes.

While the ballet school still has its doors open, many of the shops you see in the second film have closed. The whole street scene has changed as shop owners don't even bother with repairs anymore. Why spend money on repairs when the next bomb is inevitable?

It is obvious that you don’t get rich in Iraq by opening a grocery store. We all know the big money is made by those who wield the guns and power -- army, terrorists, private security, politicians, call them what you want -- and by those who are dealing with oil legally or through smuggling.

But making a film about these things as a local freelancer isn't easy. I actually got laughed off the Dora Oil Refinery grounds when I went there to ask for filming permission. My reaction to this was the decision to focus the film on the small man on the street and hopefully poke a little stick in the ribs of the big guys.

What still needs to be thoroughly investigated is the widespread corruption by Iraqi and American officials which resulted in the loss and theft of millions of dollars which should have bee spent on reconstruction.

-- From Baghdad Blogger Salam Pax
Salam Pax, hello and in true humble gratitude I must say thankyou. Your work is the greatest feature I have yet seen on CNN! Your bravery, your wit, your total sensitivity and it's all done with such a cry to see the pain with a tilt of the head and a smile. I don't know where you find this beauty. Your work is beautiful. You touch! You get there and you show the absurd.

May yourself, your family, all those you love be watched over and as much as is possible in today's Iraq. Be safe. Your country may it find the course that will pull it out of this quagmire and all of us in the world be there in a way that alleviates the going ons. At least let us not perpetuate it.

Sensitivity and wisdom is how I see the world being able to move together.

Peace at it's most glorious, peace and respect for ALL the genders and citizens.

Love Su
I wish you the best of luck Salem Pax (whatever your real name is)((I know it's not Peace Peace). I don't know how you can retain your sense of humor in a country where certain insane individuals insist on vegetables (and fruits) being separated because they are different genders (presumably they are different genders in the Arabic language???). Please write a blog on this subject someday, if you can.


A concerned (and grateful ((yet really disgusted and embarrassed))) American.
Dear Mr. Salam Pax,

thank you very much for your culturally insightful report of the courageous women in Iraq working towards better chances for the women in their society.
I hereby also want to express my deepest respect and gratitude to these women and their brave and supporting families for their commitment and drive to improve the Iraqi women's chances and position in their society.
I wish for peace to come soon so the children of Iraq can play freely on the streets again.
Bismi Allahi alRahmani alRahiym
In the name of God the most Mercy the most Merciful

I missed the first part, but I'm glad I saw the second part. This episode of "World's Untold Stories" was funny, and yet informative and serious at the same time. Apart from women's experience in today's Iraq, I actually enjoy Salam Pax's analyses of Iraq's current financial dilemma, and legal and illegal ways of getting rich in Iraq. I never knew before that the stock market was the best place to give one's self financial boost in Baghdad, and despite the rising sales of cell phones within the country, I was not too surprised that cell phones would be very high in demand. However, I am surprised that only the expensive ones sell. Here in Nigeria, all types of phones cell, even the least quality ones.
This is indeed a touching story. the world need to have a rethink on the issues of Iraqis bcos in world issues like this, the children and women are the most affected.

To have to live in a society of uncertainty, Salaam you touched my heart and I feel the pain and concern of the mothers there but I know that the God of Peace will grant your turbulent country peace.
Hi Salam, more strenght to your hands. you really have touching story there.

Be calm cos it will soon be alright. hang on a little more.
Thank you for this very touching news. to have to live in a world of fear and terror hmmm...

I feel the pain of the pain of the women and children they suffer more at times like this.

I hope the world will come to realise the pain of this nation and bring about a permanent resolution to the conflict.

Be calm it will soon be alright.
Perhapes from now on every American will make an effort to listen other points of view when it comes to dealing with other cultures - especially if nations with hundereds of years of cultural insight tell a country that's a cultural light-weight to use caution when simplifing a cultur with thousands of years of political/historical and racial background. "Freedom Fries" my a**!
In the name of God the most Mercy the most Merciful.
In truth. If you really want to help the Iraqi women. You must liberation from occupation and the American aggression. Instead you people thinking branches, and not out of Catastrophe .
deth to bush and all droops of usa . ameeeeeeeeeeeeeeen .
World’s Untold Stories showcases courageous correspondents telling intimate stories of society's most vulnerable people. Often gritty, always powerful tales that open our eyes to a world that is at times disturbing and captivating. Storytelling that is raw and unyielding in its impact. World’s Untold Stories will bring the viewer tales from all corners of the world, and shine light on activities almost never exposed.

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