Journalist refutes mass media’s coverage of Iraq
The message and pictures aren’t pretty. In fact, some people who hear what Urban Hamid’s has to say might come away a bit depressed.
“Some of what I’ll be sharing is pretty difficult for people to face,” Hamid said.
But depressed or not, people will come away empowered and better informed, said Hamid, a Swedish-Iraqi journalist.
Hamid was in Iraq from March 11 through April 30, 2003 – during the U.S. invasion – and has made several trips back to the war-torn country during the past few months.
Hamid has been in the High Country sharing video footage, photographs and insight gained through his coverage of the war in an attempt to provide information that, he said, is missing in the media.
“Too many Americans have a glorified and sanitized version of the war,” Hamid said. “I want to put a name, smell, taste, sound and face to the war and people of Iraq.”
A lecture Hamid gave in Glenwood Springs was sponsored by the Roaring Fork Peace Coalition, an anti-war organization active in the Glenwood Springs and Carbondale communities.
Calvin Lee, a Glenwood Springs attorney, artist, and spokesman for the coalition, said he hopes Hamid’s lecture will educate voters and promote humanitarian interest for the conflict in the Middle East.
Lee said he opposes the war and the policies of the Bush administration.
“This administration is the most dangerous in my lifetime. They seem to like to make war and have a view that Americans can fix things with enough soldiers in place,” Lee said.
Cooperation between countries and a peaceful exchange of dialogue is the way to resolution, he said.
Journalist supports soldiers
Hamid shares that opposition to the war, but wants people to understand he is not against the soldiers involved in the conflict. Hamid met and interviewed several soldiers while he was writing in Iraq, including one African-American soldier who, he said, touched his heart.
“He was very confused and traumatized,” Hamid said.
At one point, the man borrowed Hamid’s cellular phone to call his wife in America. The soldier learned he was about to become a father during that conversation. “That soldier became a symbol of all those guys who put their life on the back burner to take chances during this war,” Hamid said.
Hamid shares many of his experiences in a book titled “51 Days in Baghdad.” However, at this point, the book has only been released in Swedish, Hamid’s first language.
A citizen of the world
Hamid, whose mother is Swedish, spent his childhood in Sweden, with the exception of one year in the 1970s when he lived in Iraq, his father’s home country.
Hamid said he considers himself a citizen of the world. He speaks several languages and lived for about 15 years in Boulder, where he earned a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Colorado. Now, Hamid lives in Sweden where he is a freelance reporter for the newspaper Aftonbladet.
Hamid became a foreign correspondent in Iraq because he wanted to change American perception of the Middle East.
“I used to think that Americans were compassionate, generous and caring. But people sort of gave up their voice to let the warmongers speak,” he said. “I was very disappointed and wanted to help people regain their voice.”