Aparna Bakhle – Featured Blog September 8, 2014

The Nature of Isis and the Voice of Iraq

published September 8, 2014

by Aparna Bakhle

While I was pregnant with my second daughter in 2007, my husband composed a score for The Road To Fallujah, a documentary by Mark Manning, who became the only Westerner to live among the residents of Fallujah, following a battle that destroyed a city that dates back to Babylonian times. The film takes an in-depth and humanizing look at the issues in Iraq, seeking avenues to peace from the horrors of war.

Screen shot from The Road to Fallujah website.

As I neared the final stages of pregnancy, when fluid would gush from a broken amniotic sac to herald the onset of labor, I thought about how the struggle to birth brings about new life. Mesopotamia, a region in modern day Iraq, was the birthplace of some of the world’s oldest civilizations, writing, and recorded history. As I write anchored to a computer screen, I can barely conceive of life in the 6th millennium BC, let alone the continuous successive civilizations that flourished there.

Recent news reports indicate that Fallujah is now under control of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an ‘Al-Qaeda’ affiliate. Today, within the confines of the borders drawn by the League of Nations almost 100 years ago, this disintegrated Iraq appears distant from the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that define Mesopotamia.

People in Iraq shared their stories with Mark Manning because they wanted Americans to know what happened after the fall of Fallujah. After the film’s release in 2008, distribution proved challenging yet the documentary went on to win various awards. Determined to uphold his promise to the Iraqis who befriended him throughout the continued US occupation of Iraq, Mark assembled a team of citizen journalists within the war-torn country. The filmmaker’s life was altered as he cultivated his response-ability, and ours.

Image from Conception Media website.

As it turns out, Isis is also the name of one of the main goddesses worshipped by ancient Egyptians. Her name stands for “the throne,” and she is the symbol of the ideal mother. It may take the power of Isis herself, goddess of Nature and Magic, for Manning to deliver regular updates on the state of Fallujah through his website Conception Media. Manning shares that “we in America tend to only react to situations like ISIS and never seem to ask why is this happening. Through the Voices of Iraq  blog, one will find that ISIS is accepted by so many due to the terrible human rights violations conducted by the American supported Iraqi government that was installed as a direct result of our invasion. ISIS can only come in when the people support them. We need to ask why that is. For example, for 13 months prior to ISIS, large numbers of people were peacefully demonstrating the human rights violations in eight major Iraqi cities including Mosul and Fallujah, and no one listened. As my colleagues (in Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq) state, \’Now the sounds of guns are louder then our words, now they are listening…if you want to beat ISIS, you must take care of the people.\'”

I\’m not certain why I continue to hold fast onto the belief that individuals, and through them, societies, can transcend the divisions and conflicts that destroy all we join together to build. Still, like Mark Manning and many other media makers for change, I remain inspired to create life through peace and mutual aid.

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