Monday, January 19, 2009

African Iraqis Inspired by Obama

I just saw this on Rachel Maddow:

Obama's rise inspires African Iraqis in politics

By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY

ZUBAYR, Iraq — In this dusty town with a large population of Iraqis of African decent, the rise of President-elect Barack Obama spurred a simple question: If he can, why can't we?

For many years, the black residents of Zubayr say, they have lived a second-class existence in Basra province, an area where Africans were first brought as slaves about 1,500 years ago. They hold no political office, often live in crippling poverty and are still sometimes referred to as "slaves" by other Iraqis.

Yet, taking inspiration from Obama's campaign, a slate of black Iraqis who call themselves the Free Iraqi Movement is making a long-shot run in the elections for provincial legislatures Jan. 31.

"We heard Obama's message of change," said Jalal Chijeel, secretary of the political party. "Iraq needs change in how they see their own black-skinned people. We need our brothers to accept us."


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