Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2007, pages 36-37
Northern California Chronicle
Bay Area Activists Mourn Iraqi Civilian Deaths
By Elaine Pasquini
In San Francisco, activists dressed as Iraqi mothers mourn the loss of Iraqi civilians (Staff photos E. Pasquini).
CONCERNED WITH the growing number of Iraqi civilians killed during the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Bay Area activists staged several nonviolent actions throughout San Francisco on the war’s fourth anniversary. Tourists waiting to ride the cable cars in Haliday Plaza saw some 25 people enact a “die-in” to mourn the more than 600,000 Iraqis killed to date.
In the shadow of four individuals dressed as enormous human images of Iraqi mothers holding dead children, activists sprawled on the sidewalk to portray war casualties. Some wore black, while others shrouded themselves under fake bloodstained sheets or red scarves. Bay Area United for Peace and Justice, Act Against Torture, Women in Black, Food Not Bombs and Code Pink organized the event.
Marin County Rally Against Iraq War
1960s anti-Vietnam war activist and author David Harris speaks in San Rafael (Staff photos E. Pasquini).
While thousands demonstrated against the Iraq war in major metropolises March 17, hundreds of Marin County residents gathered in San Rafael for an event dubbed “The Big Peace March” by organizers Next Generation and Marin Peace Action Team. In keeping with the liberal county’s history of supporting peace and justice, a cross-section of the county’s residents—parents with toddlers, teenagers, affluent alternative lifestylers, and seniors sporting hats bearing peace emblems—flocked to the small town’s central plaza to call for President George W. Bush to end the Iraq war and bring the troops home now.
Anti-Vietnam war movement leader David Harris, one of several speakers at the afternoon rally, delivered well-received remarks to the attentive crowd. “This policy has been a failure because the Iraqis do not want us to pick their government for them,” the journalist and author of The Crisis said. “Democracy is not something that can be installed at the point of a gun. This failure has been accomplished by wasting billions of dollars—money that we don’t have and money that we need to spend elsewhere. And we have nothing to show for that incredible expenditure except massive corruption and almost universal enmity for the United States of America around the world.”
Global Forum TV Panels Discuss Muslim Media
Link TV’s Jamal Dajani (l) and Al-Jazeera’s Kieran Baker at the Global Forum TV gala in Newark, CA (Staff photos E. Pasquini).
Newark, CA-based Global Forum TV (GFTV) taped two panel discussions before a live audience March 17. The program later aired on RAVI and Bridges TV.
The first panel discussed recent changes in the Muslim media and featured Kieran Baker of Al-Jazeera’s English-language station based in Washington, DC, Jamal Dajani of San Francisco-based Link TV, Muzamil Hassan of Bridges TV and writer and media consultant Lisette Poole.
“There are currently 300 satellite stations in the Middle East,” Dajani told the audience, “and now people have options and can keep an eye on developing stories as they unfold.” During the Israeli war on Lebanon last year, the producer of the Peabody Award winner MOSAIC noted, “Arab and Muslim reporters brought the news to the rest of the world.”
After three months of reporting in English from regional centers around the world, Al-Jazeera, which offers “a different perspective from a variety of voices,” is reaching a larger audience, Baker said.
With the advent of new Muslim stations, news needn’t go through London or New York, Poole observed, “so there is a self-identity involved that brings the structure of the news closer to the international observer.”
New York-based Bridges TV “has created a dialogue between 300 million Americans and one billion Muslims worldwide,” Hassan explained. “This is the first time American Muslims have had a 24/7 television network in English carried on basic cable stations which gives them a voice in the mainstream media.”
The second panel, featuring New America Media executive director Sandy Close, Mexican-American Political Association president Nativo Lopez and this Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, columnist, discussed the role of new international media.
Veterans Denounce War Funding Vote
(l-r): Veterans for Peace members Dan Delany, John Reiger, C.T. Weber, George Main and Cres Vellucci (Staff photos E. Pasquini).
Moments after the House of Representatives voted 218 to 212 to approve President Bush’s emergency supplemental war-funding request, Sacramento members of Veterans for Peace (VFP) held a press conference to denounce their congresswoman’s vote to continue funding the Iraq war.
“What Doris Matsui (D-CA) and the Democrats who voted for the bill have done is vote for a funding bill which is going to pour another $100-plus billion into the war,” VFP member Cres Vellucci told the crowd gathered outside Sacramento’s Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse March 23. “By doing so, at least for the next 18 months, they are going to doom the troops in Iraq to even more hell than they’ve been going through over the last four years and share responsibility for thousands of American and Iraqi deaths.”
Dan Delany denounced the money being appropriated for war when funds are needed here in the U.S. “Why do we have 46 million people without health care while running an illegal war in Iraq?” he asked.
Delaney and Vellucci, along with VFP members John Reiger, C.T. Weber and George Main, were arrested the previous day after reading the names of some of the more than 3,200 U.S. troops and 600,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the four-year-old war. The arrests came on the last day of a 52-consecutive-workday “sit-in” by members of the Sacramento Coalition to End the War in the Democrat’s home district office. ❑
Elaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Egypt Focus of Spring Festival
Egypt was the central focus of the International Spring Festival held April 21 at the University of California’s International House in Berkeley. Guests perused the informational material and beautiful papyrus and embroidered clothing offered for sale while enjoying authentic Egyptian cuisine provided by San Francisco’s Al Masri restaurant. Artists Hassan Fedawy, Rehab Fekry Said and Tamer Youssef displayed their drawings and cartoons. A musical highlight of the day’s events was the performance by Flowers of the Nile, a Sacramento-based Egyptian-American musical group. ❑
Attiya A. Shakran, press counselor for San Francisco’s Egyptian Consulate, at Egypt’s booth at the Spring Festival held at UC Berkeley’s International House.