carnegie logo

Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next »

IRAQ: Black Iraqis hoping for a Barack Obama win


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.

Racism isn't new in Iraq. Blacks were brought here as slaves from Africa more than 1,000 years ago to work for wealthy landowners in Basra, where most of Iraq's black population still lives. Today, one of the insults sometimes hurled at black people is "Abd," which means servant or slave in Arabic, said Razzaq, who has founded a political organization called the Free Iraqis Movement to press for equal rights for black people.

Its goal includes amending Iraq's constitution to ban discrimination against blacks, who Razzaq says number about 2 million here, and getting blacks elected to the national parliament.

He admits the effort so far has been frustrating. The movement is too broke to have a website, and it is having trouble generating support from Iraqis who fear rocking the boat during these politically volatile times. A recent visit to Baghdad to lobby political leaders to support his cause was futile, with most people advising Razzaq that his movement could be seen as sowing divisiveness at a time when Iraqis need to set aside their ethnic and religious differences to recover from the war.

Another problem, according to Razzaq, is that many of Iraq's most powerful people still think of blacks as servants. Some tribal sheiks still keep blacks as slaves, he says.

Razzaq regrets not launching his movement five years ago, after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime. "We didn't do it then because we were worried about being accused of trying of trying to stir up trouble at a time of nation-building," he said. "We had hoped the new parliament would come to include black people, but that did not happen."

As he travels through the country, Razzaq carries with him the resumes and biographies of black Iraqis who he says have been denied jobs and high political appointments because of their race.

If Obama wins in November, he's hoping Iraq's leaders will take a closer look at the documents and give some black Iraqis a chance. And if John McCain wins? "It will be a big disappointment," Razzaq says.

-- Raheem Salman and Tina Susman in Baghdad

Photo credit: Tina Susman


Comments () | Archives (22)

Please stop your racist complex , all blacks were not from slave's ancestry and all semites and whites people were not free from slavery ! Go see how the semites and aryans captives were painted in the edge of the temples of the pharaohs ! They were invaders ! Don't reclaim the black african civilisations in Egypt , Ethiopia , Nubia , Dravidian India , Summer ,Punt ,Abysinian Kingdom of Sheba in ancient southern of Arabia before the arabs the sons of Abraham and Hajara and etc .

Now , you have to know that also the blacks kushites have realized the Babylone in ancient Iraq . Nemrod was ethiopian king who build the tour of Babel and the shaldean babylonians were blacks kushites ! Go verify in history ! If you become manipulated by lies propagated by racist imperialism era , you have to read ancient greeks historians ,Herodotus , Diodore of Sicilus , Strabo , Pline ,Plutarquos , Aristotle , etc who proved in their books that ancient-egyptians were black indigenous people from Ethiopia and they migrated in East Africa after foreigner euro-asiatic invasions . So , be free by reading history and stop racism against black ancient civilisations which are stolen by so called bedouins semites and so called caucasians who want to make everything white . Just remember the desease of Narcissism which enslaved eurocentric historians and people ! thanks , excuse me if I spoke very warmly , because , thousands of black people ,even the ancient-egyptians childrens in East Africa suffer from the ignorant racism of the young civilisation who awoke in 16th century after christ ! the lool civilisation ! byeee

First of all, I would like to make clear that as an Iraqi living in Western-Europe, I am totally against racism and I condemn anyone acting racist. Second of all, I would like to point out that not only blacks in Iraq, but all Iraqis have a hard time and have been persecuted by the tyrants ruling that country. For example: tens of thousands of white Kurds have been deported out of Iraq in the 70's/80's just because they were accused of being Iranian and not Iraqi while the Iranians accused them of being Iraqi. These Kurds still did not gain their citizenship back in Iraq, even after almost 7 years after the American invasion of Iraq. What I mean with this comment is: not only blacks are being discriminated in Iraq, but also other groups, that whole country is a total mess. Yesterday 130 people were killed in Baghdad when 5 carbombs detonated. When Arab terrorists kill their own people, how do you expect from them to give you your rights back, when they don't even have respect for their own.

Pure black people are discriminated against everywhere outside of black Africa. Which is simply a case of pure ignorance, because the human race had its origin right in the hard of Africa, many millions of years ago, long before the Bible lie of a 6,000 year old Adam and Eve. The origin people were black, and in my particular religion we believe in a black Jesus, who was simply a human being, and of the same level as all on the earth, who are brothers and sisters. With the God that I serve, who created everything being a black as a thousand mid-nights. Of whom none of us have ever seen or talked with, including Moses, who did not write the first five books of the Bible. A book that is not the words of God, but written by people the same as you and I. And much within the book in myths and lies.

Lets not give former President (Bush) any credit for the life stlye changes now taking place in Iraq. Without the war effort and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform these Black Iraqs would be still held down. We have a new president and we need to get behind him. A republican.

I am a foreign born Black-American and have been discriminated by Black-Americans because of my accent.
Discrimination can also be cultural.

I'm bit surprised that a president and founder of the Free Iraqis Movement, Mr.Abdul Hussein Abdul Razzaq stated as saying himself of claiming a black Iraqi!, first of all, he doesn't looks like a dark skinned Iraqi himself, but he looks more like a Bantu Tribe from Nigerian Igbo race, which is much similar race with Afro-Americans...
So, Mr.Razzaq, you should look into your family tree, I predict that's your family came from Nigeria, escaped from Atlantic Slave Trade by Europeans, and instead yourself smuggled into IRAQ and now claim yourself as a Black IRAQ, but you don't looks like Ours, but seems like you are from other side of Abd!

i never knew we had brothers in Iraq. . . very interesting. . . i guess us black people are all over the world

I am Tariq Berry, founder of Save the True Arabs and I would like to correspond with Abdul Hussein Abdul Razzaq. Our mission at Save the True Arabs is to save the black-skinned Arabs, who are in fact the true Arabs, from extinction and to place them in the forefront of the Arab World as they were in the past. It's time for the black-skinned Arabs, the true Arabs, to wake up and make their presence known. Basra is where the true Arab tribes settled in Iraq. Many people in Basra are from the tribe of Azd. The tribe of Azd was very dark-skinned and the Shanua branch of Azd were known to be jet-black-skinned-much, much darker than Abdul Hussein Abdul Razzaq. The Prophet Mohamed (SAWS) described the Prophet Musa (Moses) as "jet-black-skinned as if he is from the tribe of Shanua" (ahadith Al Israa Wa Al Mi'raaj). As I said, the Shanua are a branch of the tribe of Azd. The Companion of the Prophet 'Ubaada ibn Samit, who was a pure Arab from the tribe of Azd, was from the Khazraj branch of Azd and he was described as "black-skinned as if he was from the Shanua" (Futuh Al Sham). It's time for the Arabs and the world to know the true appearance of the original Arabs. Tariq Berry [email protected]

The ignorance expressed by some of the white and possibly colored responses to the article exude extreme cultural ignorance.Apparently being Islamic doesnot keep racism from being a factor in Iraq just like being a Christain in Mexico,England,France,Peru,or theU.S.does not keep racism from being implemented!You Obama haters must enjoy Cindy McCains'use of her private jet as the only way to get around Arizona as normal! I've seen Iraqis paler than Mr.Razzaq with kinky looking hair but of course the U.S.-Europe mind-culture-control system says where certain ethnic and racial groups live or don't live at.Didn't the conservative rabble count how long it had been since Senator Obama had traveled to Iraq?He traveled then these conservative idiots complained that those foreigners can't vote in the U.S. elections!What intellect from a nation that screams "all new,full length episodes"for tv shows.Racism,Predjudice,Bias,Favortism,Ethnocentricity,and Religious Misinterpetations are past times on this strange planet.

Well the arabs have light and dark light black people have. There is discrimination but not racism. It isnt too much of a problem. They arent trying to commit genocide like whites did to blacks. Abd means slave or servant and this is only for Allah not for ANY of his prophets like Muhammad or moses or JESUS(peace be upon them al) Ignorant arabs use the word "Abd" in regards to human servitude which I havent seen used in the religion of islam. The white or lighter arabs have to always remember that derogatory names like "sand nigger" and "camel jockey" applies to them all, whether they be darker or lighter. They may have racism against africans,but that's another story.

One of the bloggers wrote that the LA Times is bias. The article was wrriten expressing the views of a black man in Iraq. Since when is reporting the truth defined as being bias? What is this world coming to when we can't except the Truth. This is the reason why racism still exist today because people perpetuate ignorance. If everyone stop concentrating on our differences and focus more on what we have in common this world would be a better place. When are we going to liberate ourselves from our own fears so that our presence can liberate others. This type of thinking and negativity that is being put out there in the universe are the seeds we have planted and the reason this world is in turmoil today. Issues that are important to Americans will never be resolved until we embrace our differences and work collectively for the good of all mankind.

The reason why so many of you are surprised that there are black Iraqis is because the Corporate Media and the education system is not educating the American people.. They want us to be divide so that the elite and the rich can do their thing. We all need to unite black, white, native american, asian, hispanic, gay straight, left, right and get these bums out of office and boycott these bums that is stealing and ripping the country apart. We should only buy oil from America, we take the media to task with their talling points. etc., This is how the country changed in the 50s', 60s, 70s. We are dumb as to what is really going on in the world.

All Iraqis should be disappointed if McCain becomes president because that will mean that their national nightmare will continue as McCain has no plan to end the occupation and restore the lives of the 4 1/2 million refugees.

Interesting -- I didn't know there were blacks in Iraq, either. I mean, you never do see them on TV.

The language America understand racism. A person from the Middle East isn't described as Black. Only America uses racism like black and white. Most of the people of the World are of color and of course the bibles Eden is in Africa. America can't stop from being racist thank God the World is not following that direction.

Looks like people are going to attack Obama on non-issues instead of ones which are important to the American citizens.
Why in the h.. do we have to know the origin , sex and type of person voting for Obama , is this to farther the McCain campaign.
Personally I am sick of the republicans , McCain , the web sites over reaching and the corporate news republican propagranda machine.

"Not only will it be better for Americans, he says, it will help blacks the world over..."

Oh really? How has electing a narcissistic socialist to a position of power ever helped anyone?

Of course black Iraqis are for nobama, he's muslim.

What the does this have to do with anything. Another LA Times bias poorly written article. This is the type of reporting and bias that has cost the LA times so many readers.

When are you going to wake up. The day the LA Times goes out of business or becomes more responsible can't come soon enough.

Just change the name to the New York Times of Los Angeles.

If Racism exists anywhere it exist everywhere........

1 2 | ยป


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Recent News
Introducing World Now |  September 23, 2011, 8:48 am »



About the Contributors