Iraqis Speak

Voices for Peace in Iraq

Join us for an evening of dialogue with representatives from Iraq. They will speak about their experiences of the war and occupation and hopes for peace. The evening will feature an open discussion with all present, including guests from veterans’ and military family organizations.

Friday, May 12th
7 pm – 9 pm
Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ
5301 North Capitol Street NE, Washington, DC 20011


  • Aseel Al Banna, an Iraqi-American architect & peace activist based in Washington, DC
  • Samir Adil, president of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, which is committed to establishing a free, secular and non-ethnic government in Iraq
  • Sami Rasouli, founder of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Iraq
  • Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi-Palestinian blogger and country director of the only door-to-door causality survey in post-war Iraq

Moderator, Andy Shallal: an Iraqi-American based in Washington DC who is very active in peace work and movement building.

Also featuring: representatives of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and Military Families Speak Out, as well as other military families and veterans.

Donations will be collected for the Iraqi organizations represented by the speakers.

For more information: call 215-241-7199, email:
or visit:

Sponsored by: September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Black Voices for Peace, and American Friends Service Committee. This event is part of the “Silence of the Dead, Voices of the Living” action – May 11-14th details at:

Bios of Iraqi Participants

This is a rare opportunity to hear directly from Iraqis talking about efforts to build nonviolent opposition to the U.S. occupation and sectarian violence. Here are some of the featured speakers:

Samir Adil is cofounder and general secretary of the Iraqi Freedom Congress [], a broad-based organization that is committed to establishing a free, secular, and non-ethnic government in Iraq. The Freedom Congress’ work focuses on guaranteeing Iraqis’ right to determine their own system of governance and is dedicated to building harmony among Iraqis, regardless of religious or ethnic identity. The Freedom Congress promotes democracy and secularism through a people’s movement – based in the student, labor and human rights communities – and it promotes a “third way” forward, through nonviolence techniques. It offers positive opportunities for Americans to contribute to peace and unity in Iraq. Freedom Congress members are creating a television station that focuses on peace issues and produces a newsletter called Iraq Weekly. While in the United States Samir will be part of a speaking tour that will discuss the effect of the war and occupation of Iraq.

Aseel Al Banna was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq were she studied architecture and urban studies at the school of architectural engineering at the University of Technology. Finding herself in the midst of violence wrought by the First Gulf War, Aseel left Iraq in 1992 and eventually made it to the United States where she obtained her architectural degree from the University of Kentucky. Aseel has been politically active in her community. Most recently she traveled with an Iraqi women’s delegation throughout the United States to shed light on the horrors of the war in Iraq and its impact on women and children. Throughout her architectural practice and her political interest she finds herself acting as bridge between both the Iraqi and the American culture.

Mishkat Al Moumin is the former minister of the environment in the interim Iraqi government and a well-known Iraqi lawyer, specializing in human rights. Since Iraq did not previously have a ministry of the environment, she designed its entire structure, developed new environmental law, led campaigns to support Iraqi people living in environmentally dangerous areas, and initiated awareness and clean-up projects. Prior to joining the government, she served as director of women’s issues for the Free Iraq Foundation, where she successfully advocated for women to hold 25 percent of the seats in the new Iraqi parliament and conducted trainings for NGOs and women leaders. In 2004, Dr. Al Moumin worked with the International Federation of Election Systems as an advisor on elections in Iraq. As a lawyer, she represented clients in cases concerning personal status and labor and lectured on human rights and international and constitutional law at Baghdad’s University College of Law. She has spoken at and facilitated several conferences on women’s issues and is founder and director of Women and Environmental Organization in Iraq. Currently, she is a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and holds master’s and doctorate degrees in public international law from the University of Baghdad. Her writing has been published in Arabic newspapers a number of legal journals.

Raed Jarrar is a half-Iraqi, half-Palestinian blogger, activist, and architect. He was in Iraq during and after the 2003 invasion where he took a part in humanitarian and political projects there, including establishing and leading volunteer grassroots organizations and Iraq-based NGOs. Raed was director of the Iraqi Civilian War Casualties survey, the only door-to-door causality survey in post-war Iraq. The names from the survey are used by the Eyes Wide Open/Peaceful Tomorrows exhibit of Iraqi shoes []. Raed established the NGO known as “Emaar”, which carries out work in Baghdad and nine cities in the south, coordinating with local authorities, community leaders, and other NGOs. Emaar implemented hundreds of community-based projects around the country with an extremely low budget. Raed left the Middle East and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2005, where he maintains a popular web-blog that includes analysis and news summary regarding Iraqi and the Middle East [].

Sami Rasouli is founder and director of Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Iraq and Karbala Human Rights Watch. Both organizations focus on finding nonviolent solutions to conflict and war. Sami was instrumental in providing information, contact, and coordination during the recent kidnapping of four Christian Peacemaker Team members in Baghdad and eventual release of three of them. (Tom Fox, the fourth member, was found dead with no explanation.) Sami was a math teacher in Iraq, leaving at age 24 to teach in the United Arab Emirates and then Germany. He eventually brought his family to the United States, seeking medical treatment for one of his three sons. Settling in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, he drove a cab until he had enough money to buy a cafe and market. He became a US citizen in 2001, however he returned to Iraq two years later after his mother’s death. Stunned by the destruction he saw, he founded Muslim Peacemaker Teams in January 2005. The group reaches out to Iraqis with practical assistance projects, such as delivering medical supplies, with the goal of educating the public in nonviolence by teaching the Islamic principles of peace [].

Anas (Andy) Shallal is an Iraqi American activist, artist, and businessman. He owns and operates Busboys and Poets, a Washington, DC bookstore and cafe that has become a hub for progressives. He is a spokesperson for the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC), a Foreign Policy in Focus Analyst (with the Institute for Policy Studies, IPS), and a current IPS board member. Anas has been a featured speaker at several conferences and panels addressing Iraqi and Israeli-Palestinian issues. He appears regularly on local and national radio and television programs, such as the Jim Lehrer News Hour, CNN, Fox News, and NPR, and in national newspapers such as the Baltimore Sun, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. He founded Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives, an ad hoc group formed prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The group has been instrumental in speaking out about the detrimental impact of war on ordinary Iraqis and continues to seek peaceful alternatives to change Iraq’s regime. Anas is the Co-Founder of The Peace Cafe, which promotes Arab and Jewish dialogue and improved understanding. Since its inception in 2000, the Peace Cafe has become the largest Arab-Jewish dialogue group in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, with over 800 members. Anas is a Peace Fellow with the Seeds of Peace program, which brings together Middle Eastern Arab and Israeli youth to the United States for the summer in order to learn how to co exist. He has worked with several Israeli and Palestinian peace groups in the United States and the Middle East. He is a recipient of the Fairfax County Human Rights Award, the Jefferson Medal (the US’ highest honor for volunteerism) and the United Nations Human Rights Community Award. Recently he was given the Ambassador of Peace Award by the Washington Peace Center. Anas is a graduate of the Catholic University of America and lives in Washington DC.

Filed in: News from Peaceful Tomorrows

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