A 42-year-old Iraqi woman who is now working in her country as a journalist is on a p-r campaign in Iowa today. Ahood Abbas is from Basra, in southern Iraq and she’s traveling the U.S. for the Iraq-America Freedom Alliance, a group that’s trying to spread a more positive message about what’s happening in Iraq. Abbas says her life story was “a very black story, a very dark story” under Saddam Hussein’s reign. Three of her brothers were killed because they opposed Hussein, and her husband was jailed for three years because his mother was from neighboring Iran. Abbas herself spent three months in prison, with her children. Abbas went to college in Baghdad and got a degree in mass communications, but was relegated to being a stay-at-home mother under Hussein. After Saddam was ousted, she says she got a new life. Abbas says she now writes for her local newspaper and is a member of her local governing council. “I go outside and I have all this energy and I do many, many things,” she says. Abbas says Saddam tried to kill the human being inside her, but now she and her country have experienced a sort of rebirth. “My life has changed from a mother sitting in the home and now I do many, many things,” she says. “I am very, very busy.” Abbas says a small minority in her country oppose the U.S. presence in Iraq, a minority she says is mostly composed of outsiders and criminals Saddam let out of prison. Tamara Sarafa Quinn was born in Baghdad but fled to the U.S. 35 years ago and lives in Tennessee now. She’s also in Iowa, a representative of the Women’s Alliance for a Democratic Iraq. “The message here is really to tell the American people that many good things are happening in Iraq,” Quinn says. “Please go to www.untoldiraq.org to learn a bit more about the good things that are happening, the schools that are up, the hospitals that are open.” Quinn will accompany Abbas around Iowa, then go on to Wisconsin and Michigan — states which, like Iowa, are considered too close call in the presidential race.
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