Enjoying freedom, and extending it

This evening, I had the privilege of attending a reception organized by Jim Hake of Spirit of America in honor of Iraqi bloggers Omar and Mohammed Fadhil of the Iraq the Model blog. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz spoke briefly, praising Omar and Mohammed (both dentists) for the quality of their blog and for their courage in the face of death threats.
Hake and the Fadhils are spearheading a remarkable Friends of Democracy project that will create and host an Arabic blogging tool to enable other Iraqi (and ultimately other Arab) blogs to spring up and be heard. The idea is that any Iraqi who declares himself of herself to be pro-democracy can have a blog and be connected to other pro-democracy bloggers. As Mohammed put it, “I’m enjoying my freedom and I want others to enjoy theirs too.” I wish that every American could have heard Mohammed’s words, or even just seen the joy on Omar’s face as he showed off the new blogging tool to guests.
The blogging tool will be up and running about a month before the scheduled election, and the Alis think it will play a significant role. They say that Iraqis crave, but lack, information about the elections. Blogs can fill that gap. But is the internet sufficiently prevalent in Iraq? The brothers say that it is and that, indeed, almost everyone in Iraq has access to the internet through the intenet cafes springing up everywhere. This includes even the “marsh” Iraqis, they report.
The brothers offered a few predictions about the election. They believe that voter turnout will be about 80 percent overall — lower than that in the Sunni triangle, but still substantial. They are also confident that Southern (Shiite) Iraqis will not cause a pro-Iranian government to be elected because they know Iran well and do not want the same for their country. Finally, they predict that the government that emerges will be secular.
The brothers describe themselves as “ordinary Iraqis.” But, as Jim Hake reminded us, we are all ordinary until we do something extraordinary.
BIG TRUNK adds: Judith Weiss of Kesher Talk reports on the Ali brothers in New York City: “Let freedom reign.”

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