Analysis by Ali Asaad Hasan Alzuhairi: What has changed in Iraq since the downfall of Saddam Hussein?

by , under Ali Asaad Hasan Alzuhairi

Migrant Tales insight: Ali is one of the many Iraqi asylum seekers that came to Finland in 2015. He wants to share his thoughts about the situation in Iraq so that people and policymakers could be better informed about the reality in his former home country. 

At the moment we are faced in Iraq with terror coming from the militias and are not able to express opinions which are critical of the Iraqi government.

In the era of the Ba’ath party regime in Iraq,  it was difficult to express one’s opinion on issues that concerned social or political issues or even sports. We had to bow down to the single ruling party and the dictatorial regime. I still remember, how people used to be afraid of the walls of their houses because they used to say that “the walls have ears.” The Ba’ath regime would monitor everything that people said or did.

At the moment the situation in Iraqi is slightly different but not much from those times. In the past we were dealing with the dictatorial regime, now we are dealing with “electronic militias,” which pursue anyone who dares to criticize those in power.

The Iraqi constitution stipulates that all citizens are equal and that they have the right to an opinion and of expression, however, in practice, these words are merely ink on paper. When it comes to freedom of expression in Iraq right now, there are many “red lines” that one cannot cross.  One cannot criticize the ruling party, the militias, the armed wings of the political parties, or anyone who holds any power in the country. Because of the “electronic

Because of the “electronic militias,” people are afraid to express their opinions on social media. The militias or people who sympathize with them are everywhere. They follow social media accounts and start to monitor and follow any critical users. People who cross the red lines will either be killed or punished through the judicial system, which the militias have also infiltrated through the people in power.

People who hold secular views in Iraq are not allowed to express them. For example, in Baghdad in the last few weeks several civilian activists who demanded freedom of expression, have been kidnapped.

In other words, more than 13 years after the fall of the previous regime, we again to have in place a system in which the ruling political class is creating laws which only benefit itself and its interests.