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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Calling home to Baghdad

Since the war began, Adnan Naum has been able to call his three sisters in Iraq, but he hasn’t heard what they think about U.S. forces moving toward Baghdad, where two of them live.

“I don’t talk politics on the phone,” he said. “They can’t say anything. They just say they’ve collected water, they’ve collected food and they’ve sealed the windows. That’s what we did in the first strike.”

Naum lived in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. During the strikes, his family had no phone service or electricity. They couldn’t pump water and used kerosene stoves to cook.

Three families with relatives in Iraq, including Naum’s, attend Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, N.Y. The prayers there, as in many congregations, are offered for all who are affected by the war. “We pray for the Americans and we pray for the Iraqis, for all who are injured,” Naum said.

A loss of life on either side saddens Naum. “As a Christian, I feel war brings suffering, brings destruction and brings desolation to families,” he said.

Naum said the best-case scenario in this conflict is for the military to successfully finish what it started. “[President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair] are insisting they will not stop until the regime is gone,” he said. “I hope and pray the Americans won’t stop until they really do it. My only hope is that this crisis will end as soon as possible so the suffering will be as minimal as possible and the Americans will do as they say and bring democracy. And I hope they will let the Iraqi people do that.”

Naum, his wife and two daughters immigrated to America in 1995. He’s seen a change in Americans since 9/11. “People aren’t relaxed anymore,” he said.

And recent demonstration polarize America, he said, adding, “They give the wrong message. Usually political conflicts are solved by compromise, and when you put your weight on one side that side will think it is winning.”


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