I ran away from death, now I have a fear of life!

Kurdishaspect.com - By Dana Asaad Mohammed

It’s so surprising for a man who lived in a country where he was always afraid of death to suddenly find himself in another country so full of possibilities that he becomes afraid of life itself! To be scared of life in a positive way, by its sudden abundance of choices, is quite a shock.

My name is Dana Asaad Mohammed and I am a 30 years old journalist forced to flee the land of my birth. My country is Iraq and I both hate and love it. My hate emerges because it is a country which deprives you of all your natural rights; a corrupt and conservative country that has no respect for human rights and freedoms. Yet, at the same time I love my country and I cling to hope that change is possible, that maybe even I can do something for the good. I dream of a revolution, a rupture worthy of destroying the whole political and social system to bring about a better life.

Until recently I was busy with my work in Iraq, employed as a news editor for Voices of Iraq, an Iraqi independent news agency, editor of Awene (Mirror), a weekly newspaper, and a correspondent for foreign newspapers in Kirkuk and Nainawa. On occasions I worked as a translator during the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

In my small way, my work challenged corruption and extremism, and in the end it forced me to leave my own country as extremist threats against my life mounted up. In the end I couldn’t continue my efforts to do something good for my country and so I left for France, to start a new life and never return home.

Before I reached France I had a view of Europe, its lifestyle and freedoms, but my previous understanding do not compare to what I now see around me.

Paris scares me! Life in this country, despite all the shortcomings, is more beautiful than Iraqis have ever understood! In Iraq I felt I was fighting for my life, but now I recognize that I hadn’t understood life enough to be able to fight for it.

In my country religion, culture and the political system have drowned people while in this new country freedom is so vast that it scares me and I cannot mix with it easily. I see two different cultures and it’s difficult to me to see that I come from a country where people are still busy creating bombs to kill innocent people, while here even the rights of animals are protected; it is difficult to come from a country with so many red lines forbidding free speech and to arrive in a country where you can abuse its leader without being arrested; it is difficult to come from a country that you have to take your lover’s hand in secret and to now live in a country where you are allowed to kiss her for all the world to see.

And what I’ve seen here has changed my opinions completely. Now, I know that I must return to my country one day because life is not that long and Paris doesn’t need me as much as Iraq does. For the moment though, I am now learning many things from this country: how to work and fight for the sake of a better and more beautiful future in my own country.

This country gives me a stronger personality to believe my ‘forbidden’ beliefs back home. I’m here now but my pen and mind will always be there. And one day will come, near or far, when my body will return as well.


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Septemer 23, 2009
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