Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Shada, Shada, Shada

The Washington Post deserves a 'Well Done' for putting the story of Shada Hassoun's stunning success in Star Academy 4 on the front-page. [See full text in the comments section]

I think the vast majority of Iraqis would have placed Shada's story at the very top of the stories they were following last week, despite all the bombs and the violence.

Shada does two things:

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. Young Iraqis were watching this show on satellite dishes (...banned under Saddam and now banned by the Islamic State of Iraq), were freely discussing Shada on chat rooms (...the internet was severely limited under Saddam), and were using cell phones (...another post-Saddam novelty) to vote. Seven million votes were cast from Iraq for Shada. The only thing that was a throw-back to the old days was the celebratory gunfire. However limited the influence, this younthful 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.

The New York Times makes no mention of Shada.

Yesterday I was watching Wolf Blitzer on CNN and Michael Ware came up and, honestly, I could have smashed the TV set in anger. I feel that this does not get said often enough: Michael Ware is a deceitful phony who BSes his way through the news.

Imagine my relief when I looked at the comics page this morning:

(click on image to enlarge)


Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

March 31, 2007 Saturday
Met 2 Edition

Iraqis Unite Behind Their Heroine on Arab 'Idol';
Singer Transcends Sectarian Tensions

BYLINE: Karin Brulliard; Washington Post Staff Writer


By early Friday night, families here were hunkered around their televisions, nervously awaiting the election results that would come hours later. In the northern Iraqi town of Irbil, thousands packed into a shopping mall courtyard and stood before a massive screen, shouting for the victory of their candidate: "Shada! Shada!"

The chestnut-maned object of their obsession was Shada Hassoun, Iraq's contestant on the fourth season of the Lebanese talent show "Star Academy," the "American Idol" of the Arab world. She had made Friday's finals, and a public vote, sent via cellphone, would decide her fate. And so Iraqis everywhere were in a Shada frenzy this week -- causing many to observe that, win or lose, Hassoun, a 26-year-old who professes to love jet-skiing and Antonio Banderas, had managed to engender a sense of national cohesion that has eluded Iraq for years.

"Sunnis and Shiites will unite with your victory!" read one text message, sent by a viewer, that scrolled across the screen Friday during a pre-show telecast on Iraq's al-Sharqiya satellite channel. "You are the one who unites all of Iraq, from North to South, from the Tigris to the Euphrates!"

Hassoun might seem an unlikely ambassador for Iraq, because she's never been to the country. Born in Casablanca, Morocco, she lays claim to Iraqi nationality through her father, a native-born member of the Shimary tribe of southern Iraq. Some say the distance may also have aided her rise as a unity candidate: No one knows for sure whether she's Sunni or Shiite, so both sects have claimed her. And living abroad is forgivable these days in Iraq, which many residents have fled as violence has worsened.

But what really counts, fans said, is that the beautiful, Paris-educated Hassoun embraced bombed-out, struggling Iraq. Iraq, in turn, embraced her.

"We heard she lived in Morocco and has never been in Iraq. And she loves her country so much. Imagine how great her love would be if she lived here!" said Ahmed Kadhiim, a 32-year-old day laborer sipping a Diet Pepsi in a small market in central Baghdad on Friday. Around him was a small crowd of boys and men, who estimated that among them, they had cast at least 500 votes for Hassoun this week.

Iraqis have been gripped by Hassoun's travails on "Star Academy." She bickered with other contestants, got poor reviews after forgetting her lyrics and fretted constantly that her nose is too pointy. Last week, she lay on a bed, crying that her countrymen were too busy and besieged by war to take the time to vote for her.

And they have rejoiced at her victories: She was selected as one of nine contestants to go on the "Star Academy" world tour. She was voted best "pal" by her colleagues and offered her choice of a trip to Spain or a nose job. (She chose the nose job when told she could postpone it until after the contest, so as not to affect her voice.) A week ago, she garnered 54.8 percent of the global vote, which sent her into the finals and jubilant Iraqis into the streets.

"She's the queen," said a breathless Emad Nuhad, 18, in the crowd at the Baghdad market Friday. As proof of his devotion, he produced a poster of Hassoun, hair in her face, lips painted fuchsia.

"When she sings 'Baghdaaaaaaaad,' I can't stand it. I cry," said Hussanen Fawzi, eating ice cream on a bench in the capital, referring to Hassoun's rendition of "Baghdad," the classic by the Lebanese singer Fairouz.
Not everyone was obsessed.
"Of course not," said Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, when asked whether the country's top leader was a "Star Academy" watcher. For his part, Dabbagh said, he had never seen the show either, but he conceded that an artist -- especially one sending "a positive message for the people" -- might generate popular support more easily than a politician.

Some Iraqis offered other reasons for the Hassoun fervor: With violence a constant threat, there is little else to do but stay home and watch television. Her spangly dresses and sensual dancing symbolize a freedom now unknown in Iraq. Plus there is her sultry alto voice.

And, said Sara Abdullah, 17, and Rua'a Hussein, 21, she would be the first woman to win "Star Academy."

"We will wait up until midnight, nervous that she might lose," Abdullah said as she shopped at a Baghdad denim store. "Inshallah."
But there was also something more profound, said Samir Stiphan, 62, as he sat in his Baghdad art gallery smoking cigarettes. He had been subjected to the show by his sister, he said, but was no fan; in his opinion, Hassoun was too Western, and his interest was politics.

"If the country didn't have problems and we had a normal life, no one would vote for her," he said, exhaling a puff of smoke. "The feeling that we have deep inside our hearts is that someone is trying to make us lose our Iraqi identity. That makes us hold on to anything that makes us feel we are Iraqis and we are united."

By Friday evening, unofficial results showed Hassoun in the lead. Al-Sharqiya's curly-haired anchor implored Iraqis to cast their votes for the "daughter of Mesopotamia."

"She is doing all the things that all the Iraqi girls cannot do now: singing, dancing, being free. She is representing freedom," she said. "Vote for Shada and make Iraqis feel happiness again."

The crowd in Irbil, broadcast on television, thrust their cellphones into the air.

By 11:30 p.m., the four finalists had sung and danced for the last time on the show. They stood in a line on the stage, Hassoun in a sparkly blue halter dress. The crowd was silent.

Finally, the results popped up on the screen: With 40 percent, Hassoun was the winner.

She clutched her chest. Gold confetti fell on her tear-streaked cheeks, and on the large Iraqi flag that she waved back and forth.
In Baghdad, the sound of celebratory gunfire rang out into the night.

Special correspondents Naseer Nouri and Saad al-Izzi contributed to this report.

9:11 AM, March 31, 2007

Blogger Jaguar b. p. said...

It's good to know that you occupy yourself with important stuff, such as moron singing contests, while your country is under seige by the Crusaders murdering, raping and pillaging everything in sight.

As much as I dislike Australia, Michael Ware is a brilliant journalist.
So you agree with McCain that you could go for an iced mocha in Baghdad, Kaadhimi?

10:07 AM, March 31, 2007

Anonymous PaxArabia said...

Shada is a timely example of lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness. The Washington Post is commended for reminding us all that Iraq is not just about mullas, suicide bombers and death squads. The seven million Iraqis who voted for Shada were voting for life and a better future. I am personally more optimistic about Iraq's future today than I have ever been. Thanks to Shada!

11:18 AM, March 31, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear paxarabia, you r absolutely right. shada shows us that hope is still alive. hope is what the binladinists and zarqawis and the despots want to take away from us. but they can't. never will.

11:25 AM, March 31, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Shada drove into Sadr City by accident she would risk getting acid tossed in her face.

The Medhists and the Islamic State in Iraq are two sides of the same coin Nibras Kazimi.

They both are fundie killers that feed on sectarian hate.

12:28 PM, March 31, 2007

Anonymous gilgamesh X / exile - iraqi said...

Don't forget about Iraqi identity that even Iraqi jews keep their Iraqi heritage in very strong terms. el3eraq bil galb mu bil jawwaz.

11:33 AM, April 01, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hassoun is sunni, secular though.

6:49 PM, April 01, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:24 AM, April 02, 2007

Blogger Jaguar b. p. said...

How can the crusades be over if 150,000 worshippers of the cross occupy Iraq and kill muslims.

And the people who sent them there are of the belief that Allah swt is a "moon god" and "Satan"
and that Muhammad (saw) is a demon-possessed pedophile and false prophet.
Those kind of islamophobes are the ones voting Bush in and tipping the scales in US elections.

You have collaborated with the killers of your brothers for your short-sighted interest.

Thankfully the lions of Tawheed are destroying both you and your crusading masters;
by Allah's might, not their own.

10:05 AM, April 02, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:24 PM, April 02, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:40 PM, April 02, 2007

Anonymous Kafir said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:21 PM, April 02, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:02 AM, April 03, 2007

Anonymous The Captain said...


I despise everything that jaguar writes. But your tone and language reflects badly on you and your beliefs. Are you that insecure about yourself and what you stand for that you have to use such words?

By the way your name means "pimp" in Iraqi Arabic. If you meant to use the name "Jawad" then you should spell it with a "J".

I think you should clean up your language if you want anyoen to take what you write seriously or maybe you have some mental disease that gets you excited when you use swear words.

The Captain

8:45 AM, April 03, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:34 AM, April 03, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shadha is one hell of a Sunni, her QUNDARA is worth 100 Harith al-Dharis, 1000 Mish3an al-Jiburis, 10000 Tariq al-Hashimis, 100000 3adnan al-Dulaimis, 100000 Abu Omar al-Baghdadis... should I go on? I mean we talked about this for a half an hour...

11:56 AM, April 03, 2007

Blogger Jaguar b. p. said...

[ The original Crusades were... about protecting Christian and Jewish religious sites from being plundered and destroyed by Muslims. ]

Do you see, Gawad? The poster Kafir just defended the crusades as noble.

[ the biggest "Islamophobes" are the Wahhabi f---ers who have destroyed the tombs of the imams and are now fighting the US and Iraqi forces but, oh wait, you have no problem with that, now do you? ]

That is because they view tomb worship as shirk, or polytheism.
But the collaborators apostatized themselves when they took Christians for friends and protectors.

Let's recap the war:

1 - America claims Iraq is developing WMD

2 - America attacks Iraq on that false pretext, killing countless thousands

3 - despite this senseless slaughter, many (remaining) Iraqis decide to collaborate with the aggressor in order to secure political power,
thus making the USA out to be liberators instead of mass murderers.

So what conclusions do we draw?
In my humble opinion, the conclusion is that the slaughter of Iraqis was unjustified,
and therefore the U.S. should be fought;

and those who aid and abet them are guilty by association.

So fighting the salibiyoon and the murtadeen is not only imperative from a religious perspective, but also by general common sense and good morals.

That's why people from Latin America, Europe, Asia and all over the world oppose the Coalition forces of hate.
Even in America some protesters burn US troops in the effigy.
They don't do this because they're muslim, but because they recognize that US actions are evil.

I'm not even asking you to adopt my extremist approach of targeting collaborators;
all I'm asking of you is not to actively go out of your way to help the American murderers.

3:23 PM, April 03, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

Jaguar Big Pimping,

Who cares if one misinformed guy says something about the crusades - what does that have to do with anything?

So what, you defend the Wahhabis in destroying the tombs of the imams? How unsurprising that the defender of terror would also defend such disgusting anti-Islamic acts. Explaining the idiotic ideology of the Wahhabis does not justify their actions any more than explaining that a child molester thinks little kids are hot justifies the action of that sick person.

See a sick "person" like yourself has no place in Iraq because Christians are part of Iraq as are Sunnis and Shi'ites and Jews and so many other people and if you want a place where Wahhabis live only among one another then I guess you should go back to Tora Bora or whatever, although I have a feeling that your internet connection there might not be so good.

Your humble opinion is garbage. You prefer a Saddam regime and/or the SOBs who blow up innocent Iraqis. You have not one word of condemnation for the mass murderers of Shi'ites or Kurds... you will probably justify if like you justified the destruction of the tombs of the imams.

A guy like you talking about morals is pretty funny - you should do a comedy show. Again, if you want to establish a caliphate then start in your home country instead of acting in a "tease" type manner and demanding it in Iraq at the expense of Iraqis. If people in Latin America are mad at the Coalition I don't care, I don't tell them how much salsa to use on their nachos and they shouldn't tell Iraqis how to live and be governed.

What is your extremist approach? Commenting on this Gate? You talk so tough... have you ever even been to war?

I am still here and I remain the one and only GAWAD.

4:57 PM, April 03, 2007

Blogger Jaguar b. p. said...

[ You have not one word of condemnation for the mass murderers of Shi'ites or Kurds ]

That's because these groups collaborate with the U.S.
If they are willing to drop their collaboration rate by 80%,
I'm prepared to drop my support for their execution by 80%.

So far they have benefitted the enemy immensely, so they become the enemy

The only reason this 4-year occupation is even possible, is your treason and collaboration.
Now Americans can use the excuse that they are operating under the invitation of the government and to help sustain it.

If you had asked them to leave in 2003, they would be gone by now.
Or at the very least, everyone in the world would see them as unjust conquerors.

But thanks to your wise decision to embrace the occupier, now thousands more Iraqis are dead, there is no end in sight, and the Americans are heroes.

[ What is your extremist approach? ]

My extremist approach is that everyone supporting the Americans - military or civilian - is fair game.
But you don't have to agree with that, you can adopt the Bashar Assad approach, which is:

- support the political process
- support the targeting of Coalition combatants
- oppose those who kill Iraqis

That is moderate, and still does the job of putting pressure on الصليبيين

2:02 PM, April 04, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

Hi Jaguar Big Pimping,

So you admit that you want Shi'ites and Kurds to die you son of a bitch!


You bastard wannabe terrorist you are not Iraqi and no one wants you in Iraq, go find a new place to obsess over. Saddam could not murder all of the Iraqis who opposed him and neither can you or your supporters.

"Everyone is fair game" is what our resident wannabe terrorist SOB says. I guess the schoolgirls in Kirkuk were fair game. See this is the ideology of the bombers of markets and the attackers of Halabja.

You disgust me.

Long live Iraq and death to its enemies.

7:30 PM, April 04, 2007

Blogger Jaguar b. p. said...

Really, so is this the Iraq you're fighting for:

(right click, open in new window)

11:15 PM, April 04, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

Hi Jaguar Bestiality Pervert,

What is the problem? Are you angry that the woman does not have her head covered? You terrorist SOB have already admitted that you support the killing of 80% of Iraqis, so why claim you are fighting for Iraq when you support murdering most of its people, you jackass?

Here is the Iraq you want:


Ma-3indak sharaf!

7:01 AM, April 05, 2007

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