Iraq: Shada, Shada, Shada

So chanted Nibras Kazimi on the victory of the Iraqi Shada Hassoun, winner of Star Academy Middle East. What better than a trashy TV show to unite a divided country and get the blogs buzzing?

Today I have a mixed selection. A lifetime in a week of Iraqi blogger Konfused Kid, bloggers getting quoted by President Bush, and of course Shada.

If you read no other post this week read this

Konfused Kid has a fight with his father and learns more about life, friendship and people. He writes:

It all started when my father hit me with his fist.

at about 5:30 PM today, my father came out grumbling, and then began to reproach me for talking too loud on the phone with my friend, as always when he was reproaching me for something, my father was cathartically relieving his frustration and anger… However, this time, he was too angry, I usually know that any dialogue or reply whatsoever will not satisfy his craving, so I tend to murmur something about not doing it again and then I just freeze. This time, after the first few yells, his fist came POW on my head…I played it perfectly, I didn't reply or do anything, I just calmly endured his fists, until my mother came and told him to stop, he stopped but his yelling did not. He went to the kitchen, I came back, sat on the half-broken plastic chair, and finished my work on the computer, after half an hour, I took my passports, my money, and hit the streets.

Now homeless, the Kid goes for a walk with a friend who nearly gets gets arrested for not having the right papers. But being a good talker and a Sunni saves him. The Kid ends his day with this:

and so here I am, homeless, about to start my life as a single person, posting this to you from an Internet cafe which I am going to spend the night in, I called my mother and assured her I am all right, and then I went out with my friend to get dinner, the street was filled with policemen setting up checkpoints, the contraption our Iraqi lives seem to fearfully revolve upon.

The following day brings better fortune but not after a hard night.

My friend left me at the net center he works in about 10 PM that day, a Palestinian dude, Alaa, was in charge of the night shift, he was a friend of mine too. We got dinner and then, at about 1 AM, he whipped out a jodarya (like a very thin mattress), and said, “Dude, sleep on this side cuz there's, like, oil on that.” Unfortunately, the other side was filled with what can only be described as a life supply of the smell of sweat, which has come to be the most distinct smell that reminds me of Iraq now, if I tried to put my head on the other side of the jodarya there is a much worse smell in there, dirty socks that might have been worn by dead cats.
Anyway, by 3 AM the guy locks up, and I am left to solemn darkness to enjoy my first night all alone, I could not sleep until 5:30 AM.
At 7:30 AM my friend barges in like crazy, he was afraid that the owner of the internet center would come in and caps his ass

Later his father calls and they patch their differences up. But the whole experience leaves the Kid understanding new things about himself and his friends…

This experience was interesting in many ways, a lot of Iraqi kids have problems with their dads, and some even fight back, but this was my first – I was just thinking about it today, you see I happen to know this friend who orchestrates what he believes is a ‘True Friendship Test’ every once in a while, it's a pretty interesting concept except that his idea of it is bizarre, he digs up all his friends and becomes a real jerk with all of them to see who stays with him. In a way, what happened to me was a meter of friendship,- the reaction I got was very heartwarming, I got a lot of emails from concerned friends all over the world, and i was really amazed when some bloggers I barely know and some who I even fight with called me up repeatedly called me to check on how I was doing and offered requests from help, their kindness and understanding is something I hold dearly and which I would truly commit to memory, what's ironic is that this dude who conducts those friendship tests I told you about was the single person who knew about what happened to me and didn't bother to call. You don't need to make synthetic experiments on your pals, we're not in a warzone, goddammit, those kinda things come by themselves.

Quoted by the President

Getting quoted is a big thing for a blogger but nothing is bigger than being quoted by the President of the United States. But Mohammed of Iraq the Model is not letting this go to his head (links added by me):

First of all we're proud of it….Second I would like to make clear one point to bloggers like dailykos and some MSM supported blogs who seem so upset for some reason that the voice of some Iraqis is being heard.
I've seen some of them publish stories full of lies and accusations they can't support and I think it's pathetic to throw the “you're a sold-out propaganda” accusation at people just because they don't share the same point of view…This only reflects their lack of knowledge and the bankruptcy of ideas they suffer.

We speak the language of facts, supported by images and statistics and more important, we live here while they don't. We write about the good days as well as the bad days in Iraq's journey to a better future.
You don't even have to search in this blog's archives, just scroll down this page and you'll see both good and bad news—we witness an explosion and we write about it and we see progress and we write about it.
If they can't see that it's their problem, not ours.

Now a cynic may say that Bush must be really desperate if all he can do is quote bloggers for proof that his policy is working but I would say that this truly shows the power of blogging and its ability to match the mainstream media in its access to news and to the people that make the news.

Shada Shada Shada

She is the winner of Star Academy and has made a big impression on Iraqi bloggers. Zeyad says she “succeeded where Iraqi politicians failed. One out of every four Iraqis voted for Shada.” Roads to Iraq goes further. She says:

“Seven Million Iraqis voted for Shatha And that is more than Maliki’s votes including the forgery votes…

Special congratulation to:

The occupation forces, this girl in four minutes destroyed four years of effort to split the country.”

Marshmallow26 actually voted for her. She is beside herself with Joy:

Congratulations and million hugs to you Shatha, you improved your worthiness…Your Iraqi brothers and sisters’ votes crowned you the STAR. Yap…Yesterday was one of my best days ever!! I really jumped, laughed, cried and felt happy from the bottom of my heart…

Well, we spent the whole week voting…you know what? I'm not that kinda person who used to use the phone for vote in any show, BUT since Shatha attracted my ears before eyes and the same happened with all Iraqis, and since her competitors have big fans too, I said ” why not, lemme vote, just like any other Iraqi wants his compatriot to win this competition and draw the smile on every single Iraqi's face!”

…We all proud of you Shatha, and I'm proud that all Iraqi reunited on this issue, the south celebrated as the north and east and west, hope this will be a good prelusion for Iraq and Iraqis… I was supposed to write about my picnic and post some pix here but sorry I got overwhelmed by this happy ending…I even forgot about my eye when I was watching the last prime of LBC star academy 4's life.
Again congratulation Shatha and Iraqis, thank you for your votes and thanks for every one who supported the Mesopotamian daughter…WOW I'm so happy

Nibras Kazimi analyses the phenomenon:

1-She reinforces Iraqi identity; she's never been to Iraq, and is half-Iraqi by parentage, but because she chose to identify herself as Iraqi, she was embraced by Iraqis. It shows that Iraqi identity is still alive and kicking.

2-She successfully markets herself as a role model of the secularized and westernized modern Iraqi female; my mom and aunt were making phone calls from Baghdad yesterday celebrating Shada's victory as a big show-up to the mullahs. Maybe they're reading too much into it, but there's something to their instinctual reaction…

However limited the influence, this youthful frenzy over Shada and what she represents will definitely leave a mark on political issues (…popularity of religious based and sectarian parties in upcoming elections) down the road

Konfused Kid is not impressed to say the least. In a post entitled “Daughter of my Ass” he goes on to sum up his feelings about the show:

I must say that it is with a feeling of pure and utter disgust that I feel I have to include such cotton-candy corporate whoredom show on my blog. and this contempt is now only compounded by the recent manufactured event of having the winner of the show, an Iraqi of Moroccan mother who's spent almost all of her life in France, to win the show and be trumpeted as the symbol of Iraq's unity. I could almost feel the blobs of vomit boiling up right now.

It is not all about grand statements, the Kid has a serious point to make.

regardless of my own feelings about the show, I have no problems with her winning, or of the people who voted, but my beef is with all that thing about her becoming a national symbol…

we are too much afraid, and we only graze and polish our external image to prove to our dear Arab brothers how much strong we are, while inside our houses and ourselves, therein lies the roots of separation, of hatred and of discord, planted deep within, we are afraid to go deep there and solve them, instead, hey, here's that snotty lady that looks like a beautiful pig swagging around on that show, she is Iraqi, so let's give her a help….Iraqis have gone and done it yet again, proving how pathetic they really are, when we continue to insist on such frail people as symbols for our unity…

What good did this victory do for a mother who lost her son, or a family who lost their house. I can't believe our stupidity! I don't think any air-headed nation, even America, would do such a stupid thing when their country is being demolished and tattered piece by piece, this is not a time for celebration, it's a time of mourning. Don't cry all day, but still, respect the lost souls.

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