Wednesday, 18 July 2018

  • July 18, 2018
  • Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)
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I would like to applaud Iraq’s Yezidi’s, for their plans to establish a museum in Iraq, that documents the crimes of ISIS. 

The Islamic State in Iraq, was made up of Jihadists from around the world and included a known 800 people, from across the UK. 

The first organisation, to begin documenting the crimes of ISIS, was the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2014 - alongside the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities. 

As Vian Dakhil, Member of Parliament in Iraq, stated at the USHMM: “This is not just terrorism. This is genocide.” The US based Museum also stated, “along with (persecuting) Yazidis and Christians, ISIS has also targeted Shiite Muslims, Shabaks, and Turkmen." The Museum also called upon the international community to "protect” them from ISIS “genocide”. 

Within Great Britain, the only organisation to include actions of “genocide” in Iraq, within a UK based educational setting, are the Anne Frank Trust UK; which includes Iraq in the exhibition Anne Frank +You, that tours British schools, colleges, universities and community spaces. 

Hussein Al-alak is the editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)


Tuesday, 17 July 2018

  • July 17, 2018
  • Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)
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On Thursday 19th July, myself and Tracy Hollowood are taking part in the Run Media City 5K - to raise awareness of the educational achievements and mental health services of the AMAR Foundation in Iraq. 

This run is different to my involvement on the Great Manchester Run in May - as this time we are paying tribute to the North of England's relationship, with Iraq and the wider Middle East. As John F Kennedy stated; "geography has made us neighbours" and "history has made us friends". 

The reasons for this start with Notitia Dignitatum, a Roman document from around AD400, which describes how Roman Mesopotamian's -modern day Iraqi's- patrolled the UK's South Shields, whilst bargemen from Iraq's famous Tigris River once patrolled the River Tyne. 

I have laughed with Tracy about our "Anthony and Cleopatra" 5K run for AMAR but when General George Keppel was travelling along Iraq's Tigris River in 1824, he painted vivid descriptions of boatmen who resembled the "ancient heroes of Greece and Rome“. 

It's not just Britain's occupation under the Roman Empire, which establishes a historic link between the North of England and Iraq. Archaeologist, spy and creator of "modern Iraq" Gertrude Bell - was born and raised in the North East - infact Washington - part of historic County Durham. 

Further tributes to Britain's relationship with the region, are acknowledged by the arrival of Siegfried Sassoon's grandfather from Basra to Manchester in 1858. The famous historian of Lebanese descent Albert Hourani, was also born in Manchester but in 1915. 

Author of “A History of the Arab Peoples”, Albert Hourani's book has been described by Harvard University Press - as being “the definitive story of Arab civilisation” which became “an instant classic”upon publication. 

It was Maya Angelou who said "the more you know of your history, the more liberated you are" and growing up, I was fortunate to be raised in a mixed heritage family, where an understanding of history was appreciated and a study of history encouraged. 

I was incredibly fortunate to have a grandmother, who was born in 1917 and raised in Newcastle during the Great Depression. My grandmother could recall the many struggles that families went through, during the economic downturn of the 1930's, prior to the creation of the Welfare State. 

I was also lucky to have a grandfather, who was born in Manchester's Moss Side in 1907 and in 1945; was among the British forces who helped liberate the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. In post-war Britain, my grandfather then took an active role in helping with the city's reconstruction, as a member of Manchester City Council. 

After attending the AMAR Foundation's recent dinner at the Foreign Office, I visited Great Uncle Ron Fisher, who as a member of Britain's merchant navy, lost his life when the Empire Gilbert ship was torpedoed in 1942. Uncle Ron's name at-least, now rests on the Tower Hill Memorial, facing the Tower of London. 

As world events "have rumbled on since those gagged days", the past would never have known that in 2018, taking part in the Run Media City 5K and asking for help to advance AMAR's efforts in education, would be following a family tradition in rebuilding lives after war. 

Because of reforms brought in by the British Government, following the Allied victory in World War Two, education became accessible for all children, allowing for my grandparents to raise children in a post-war environment, which enabled them to pursue a college and university education. 

Those same reforms also allowed for Uncle Ron's widow, my great Aunt Jean and her second husband David (a veteran of the Merchant Navy), to dedicate their lives, to educating young people in a private boarding school. The young people they taught had been excluded from the mainstream education system. 

Whilst at the AMAR Foundation's dinner at the Foreign Office, Lord Mark Price praised the efforts of Baroness Emma Nicholson - AMAR's founder and chairperson - along with praising everyone who has helped AMAR remain a tour de force for 25 years. 

Lord Price gave mention to the fact, AMAR has helped educate 5 million people across Iraq, with each person having experienced conflict or the loss of loved ones as a result. The people educated by AMAR are diverse and their circumstances often reflect the country's recent history with conflict. 

But AMAR also recognise, the future does not have to be determined by Iraq's recent past, as it was once stated "they who ignore history are destined to repeat its mistakes". This determination, is something that we can only carry with us but it's something that only we the people can also change. 

Hussein Al-alak is the editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra). To support Hussein and Tracy on the Run Media City 5K, they are asking that people donate to the AMAR Foundation: please click here

Picture 1: taken from Hussein Al-alak's family collection and shows his grandparents wedding on the 27th July 1940. Far right and linking arms, are Great Uncle Ronald and Great Aunt Jean Fisher.


Monday, 9 July 2018

  • July 09, 2018
  • Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)
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Throughout the year MIA organises many events. The most high profile is the Procession, known popularly as the Italian Walks or Italian Procession, which took place on Sunday 8th July 2018. The full title for the event is actually the Madonna del Rosario Procession, as it is in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary. 

The Procession involves the carrying of religious emblems – The Madonna, The Calvary, St.Anthony and banners – from Ancoats across Manchester city centre, passing the Town Hall. The procession is accompanied by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Manchester councillors, members from the Italian consul, women in the colourful regional dress of Italy, and children in First Communion dress.





Thursday, 5 July 2018

  • July 05, 2018
  • Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)
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The following interview was conducted by Hussein Al-alak with Matthew Stiffler of the Arab American National Museum. 

Since 2005, the Arab American National Museum has shed light on the experiences of Arab Americans, whilst paying tribute to the many historical features of the community. 

What is your name and your role at the Arab American National Museum? 

My name is Matthew Jaber Stiffler, Research and Content Manager at the AANM. I work with museum staff to ensure that our exhibits and educational programs are an accurate representation of our diverse community. 

Can you please tell us about the Arab American National Museum and its role in modern American life? 

As the only museum of its kind in the country, the AANM is in a unique position to speak to a wide range of people about the history, culture, and experiences of Arab Americans. 

As a museum, we offer timely exhibits about Arab Americans, but also year-round musical, film, and arts-based programming, both at our museum in Dearborn and at sites across the nation. 

Who are the Arab American community and what contributions do they make to the United States? 

Arab Americans are a growing, diverse community, with a history in the US that stretches back to the 1880s. The community is comprised of fourth- and fifth-generation Arab Americans as well as recent immigrants. 

There are Muslims, Christians, Jews, secular individuals, and people from any number of other religious practices. Arab Americans can be found in every industry, including the top-levels of federal government, medicine, academics, entertainment, sports, technology, business and many other fields. 

Our museum documents the contributions that Arab Americans have made and continue to make, such as pioneering journalist Helen Thomas, the first woman in the White House Press Corps; as well as Moustapha Akkad, famed Hollywood director and producer; and Rana El-Kaliouby, computer scientist and technology entrepreneur. 

Can you please explain why Arab American history is important and can this history help those who are new to the United States? 

Like all immigrant communities, the history and experiences of Arab Americans is essential to grasping the full portrait of US history. 

Arabs in the US continue to face adversity through media representation and ever-changing immigration policies, as well as war and US military action in some of their home countries. 

But Arab Americans have also built many thriving institutions in spite of these difficulties. 

With population changes and as younger Arab Americans take a more active role in American affairs, how do you see the AANM evolving with this? 

The Arab American population is growing at the fastest rate in its history. The community is also quite young, when compared to the general population. Taken together, it is clear that Arab American youth will secure a strong future for the community. 

We host many youth-based programs at the AANM and are always encouraged by the thoughtful and dedicated participation of our young people. We would love to see more Arab Americans pursue the arts and humanities as careers, as there is scant representation of Arab Americans in these fields. 

We would like to thank Matthew for his time and if any of our readers would like to get involved with the Arab American National Museum, please see www.arabamericanmuseum.org. Pictures courtesy of the AANM.


  • July 05, 2018
  • Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)
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On Friday 29th June, the AMAR Foundation held it's annual gala dinner at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. In a crowded room, supporters from around the world gathered in the UK capital - in support of the AMAR Foundation's efforts in health and education. 

Baroness Emma Nicholson - chairperson of AMAR - gave a powerful speech, where she reminded guests how support for AMAR's work in Iraq; has provided specialist trauma care to 35.000 Iraqi Yazidi's and education to over five million Iraqi people. 

Lord Mark Price paid tribute to the work of Baroness Nicholson - who launched AMAR 25 years ago - and praised the efforts of AMAR supporters across the UK, the USA and Iraq. As Lord Price highlighted; over 10 million Iraqi's have benefited from AMAR's health services. 

In cities across the United Kingdom, supporters of the AMAR Foundation have been working tirelessly to build support for the Iraqi people. In Manchester, the AMAR foundation has taken part on the 2017 and 2018 Great Manchester 10K runs. Plans are now being made to run again in 2019. 

The AMAR Foundation has also gained new support from businesses within Manchester, where the Egoiste Gallery is now a permanent home to AMAR literature - which is given out to members of the public - while support has increased for AMAR's medical services, from workers in the National Health Service. 

To learn more about the AMAR Foundation, please check out amarfoundation.org - where you can make a secure donation online.


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