March 28th, 2006
A new Reuters article [University students in Basra fight sectarian violence] reports on one of very few bright spots in the horrific Iraqi scene. According to the article, students in Basra and Baghdad are organizing to oppose the drift toward sectarian war:
“The idea was originally the brainchild of a Sunni student whose family was killed in sectarian violence, Haydar explained. “We’re more than 200 students from different colleges in Basra working with the same aim,” Haydar said. “To open the hearts of the population and ease feelings of revolt and revenge.”
Half of the students involved in the project spend at least five hours a day in internet chat rooms discussing sectarian problems and urging their compatriots to help avert an escalation of the violence into civil war. According to local officials, there is currently at least one computer for every seven Iraqis. Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, they added, one in 20 had access to a personal computer.
“Many people have changed their minds while chatting online,” said Rasha Adnan, a philosophy student and chat-room moderator. “Some of them have even opened their own web pages to inform others on the dangers of sectarian violence.”
The other half of the group, meanwhile, is responsible for visiting schools, universities and other institutes of learning to talk to students, distribute leaflets and mount posters encouraging peace and coexistence. “After our talks, students would often ask to join us,” Haydar said. “It’s uplifting to see our simple work bringing results.””
Those of us outside Iraq should publicize this effort and lend it support in any way we can.