For a decade now, news out of Iraq has been bleak and sparse.This year, Bagdad saw one of its bloodiest summers.. In July alone, over 1,000 Iraqi civilians lost their lives in attacks and bombings. In a recent report, Gyorgy Busztin, General Secretary for Iraq at the UN Assistance Mission states, “The impact of violence on civilians remains disturbingly high, with at least 4,137 civilians killed and 9,865 injured since the beginning of 2013.”
Those numbers are rarely heard in the news today. Media coverage in the region recently gathered steam when this month it was alleged that, “Al Qaeda Terror Warnings,” posed an elevated threat to U.S. travelers. In response, the State Department closed 19 missions across North Africa and the Middle East, including in Iraq.
But what about the Iraqi people? Americans are still brought next to no information about the average Iraqi citizen. Iraqis who go to work day-to-day trying to rebuild their country never make it into the 24-hour news cycle. Earlier this year Stephan Said, an Iraq-American recording artist and human rights activist, decided to break this trend.
Said traveled to Iraq on the anniversary of the 2003 invasion to film a music video for his song, ‘Love, Make the World Go Round.’ He filmed with other Iraqi artists, youth, camera people, producers and civilians. Their goal was simple.
“We wanted to portray daily life there that nobody sees in the rest of the world: to humanize Iraq and to humanize Baghdad,” Said said. “We keep hearing only about the war and the destruction. These people have a life that they’re building.”
Said’s work as a peace activist led him to be selected for the Summer of Peace initiative, a free online resource that brings together social change leaders to discuss and teach way to create and make steps towards peace.