UNE researcher sees hope in Iraqi ‘Unity’ campaigns

Published 03 June 2014

If you lived in a dictatorship, had never had the right to vote, freedom of the press, or even heard of the word ‘democracy’, how would you view soldiers coming into your community from outside? For these societies, change is a long road, which must swell from within.

The University of New England provides many students from war-torn nations the opportunity to study and conduct their research in peace and security in Armidale, Australia in the hope that they will use their newfound knowledge to improve the lives of their families, friends and community back home.

One such student is Iraqi PhD researcher Sura Adnan G Alani, who is taking the opportunity to explore the impacts and effectiveness of propaganda campaigns following the invasion of her home country in 2003, in educating her people against violence and hatred.

Ms Alani argues that her people were not ready for democracy when it was thrust upon them, but only now are Iraqis beginning to gain some sense of nationalism to replace years of sectarian hatred and violence.

“We weren’t ready in 2003. Our society did not understand the invasion or even what this democracy was that we were being ‘given,” she says.

“Iraqi society became torn between the sectarian powers controlling them and their passion to experience the word Democracy, leading to the break out of civil war in 2005.”

“The NGOs with the cooperation of other governmental organisations started an advertising campaign called “Terrorism Knows no religion” to convince people that people from outside were killing us and not our follow Iraqis.”

“The campaign was successful to the extent that many people started to transfer their sectarian hatred towards aliens from outside the borders.”

“The campaign was followed by another successful campaign called “Unity is the answer”, appealing to the people to show unity and faith in themselves and even Iraq’s armed forces, if not in the government.”

“Today, there is a new movement of educated activists growing from within Iraq, calling for the establishment of a civil society away from the power of religion.”

“Although some religious powers call those activists as “atheist” and it is “HARAM” to vote for them, many young Iraqis, are promoting these as the best solution for a society empty of hatred and violence.”

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