Abdul Hussein Abdul Razzaq laughs wearily when asked if racism is a problem in Iraq. As a black Iraqi, Razzaq says, he faces job and social discrimination and has little chance of getting a political appointment or being elected if he ran for public office.
That’s why Razzaq, a longtime journalist from the southern city of Basra, is hoping that Barack Obama becomes the United States’ next president. Not only will it be better for Americans, he says, it will help blacks the world over. “It will prove that Americans are recognizing that black people are just as capable as white people. It will be a historic accomplishment for black people all over the world if Barack Obama wins,” Razzaq said.
Not even the elevators work now at Baghdad Medical City, built once as the centre for some of the best medical care.
One of the ten elevators still does, and the priority for this is patients who have lost their legs — and there are many of them. The rest, the doctors, patients and students at the four specialised teaching hospitals within the building complex, just take the stairs, sometimes to the 18th floor.
This is in a city that had been given dreams of great development five years back, around the time of the U.S.-led invasion. And much of the corporate-led media in the U.S. and Europe still insists that the situation in Baghdad has “improved”.
The improvement that such media sees, no one in Iraq does. As with Baghdad Medical City, so with Baghdad, and so with Iraq. The elevators are just another reminder of a country that’s not working.