Here's a Story that Won't Get Much Play

Written by Paul Zannucci on 8:12 AM


From the New York Post, we have this story, WHAT I LEARNED AT 'ANTI-JIHAD U', which tells what is currently happening in a couple of Iraqi detention camps. Far removed from the Abu Ghraib prison that still hits the news seemingly every single day, these camps of some 23,000 insurgents are designed around a concept that moves one step beyond nude photography. No, not nude moving pictures. These camps are actually making a difference in the lives of these Iraqis.

"Ahmed, a 30-year-old Sunni, talked with me as he was being released. He told me he'd never been physically abused or mistreated during his 11 months there - and had learned how to read, write, do carpentry and play chess. "Because I had never played chess before, I had to cheat to win," he joked. "None of this would have happened in an Iraqi jail."

And learning a trade, it seems, is very important. Amongst the other interesting things we have found in running this camp is that "...most (insurgents) are motivated mainly by money, or lack of it. Some 78 percent said they'd participated in attacks against Coalition forces to feed their families, and 79 percent have children. Only one in three said that they had a strong religious belief. Some 64 percent are illiterate."

As for the litteracy rate, we have this revealing quote, "After Iraqis here learn how to read and write, they can read the Koran themselves for the first time," says Sheik Ali, a Sunni who counsels detainees. (Like most Iraqis working in the program, he declined to give his surname; he must live in a US-guarded compound to avoid reprisals.) "I've seen detainees break down and cry when they realize that the conduct they thought was sanctioned by God is actually a sin."

Perhaps this shows that hope is not all lost in the Middle East. Perhaps enlightenment can come afterall. A large number of detainies have already been released back into the population with remarkablly low levels of recidivism (if we had that level of recidivism in U.S. prisons, we have to start closing them in short order). Perhaps there is hope for the Bush legacy after all. If we can create a blueprint for social change in this area of the world, it could lead to some good things. Maybe even to that ever elusive Middle East peace.

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