The Voices of Iraqi Academics

“The situation in Basra is bad in terms of services and the situation is boiling and people are bracing for the demonstration tomorrow. Corruption is eating into every single joint in the society and some people are viciously becoming rich while others are sinking into the sands of poverty and need. The school system is zero and the infrastructure is vanishing. Iraq is a failed country: the US, UK and other states are failing Iraq and the people here are adding to that failure. I was hoping to see a better situation so that I can stay but I will have to go back to the US and prepare to grow roots.”
Rafed A. Khashan, former Faculty Member, University of Basra (Feb 11)

"Political groups inside and outside the country are seeking to rid Iraq of individuals capable of independent thought. By doing so, the men of violence make it easier to push their own agenda." ... "In a country with distinct political, ethnic and religious fault lines, the university killings seem to follow no pattern. The dead have been Shiites and Sunnis, Kurds and Arabs, and supporters of various political parties. They have a common thing: they are Iraqis."

"If we all leave, we condemn the next generation to backwardness ... Without an intelligentsia, our society will retreat to the Middlle Ages ... It will take men of science and men of God to work together, to rebuild the body and soul of this country."

"Some were targeted by terrorists determined to sow chaos into post-Saddam Iraq; others were victims of a murderous campaign by Shi'ite death squads against former members of Saddam’s Ba’ath party. In Saddam’s day, you had to be a member of the party if you wanted to be a teacher ... most of us were members only in name, not by conviction ... but now it’s come back to haunt us. Any day now, I expect them to come for me."
Professor Issam al-Rawi, President Association of Iraqi University Professors
Assassinated 30th October 2006

"The police cannot protect themselves, so how can they protect us?"
Khalid Joudi, President of Baghdad's Al-Nahrain University

"The loss of some of Iraq's best minds has had an impact far out of proportion to the number actually killed or sent into exile, by depriving the country of its sharpest thinkers."
Al-Husseini, Ministry of Education

"I have only one choice, which is to suspend classes at universities. We have no other choice, I am not prepared to see more professors get killed"
Abed Theyab, Higher Education Minister
Addressing parliament after the kidnap of 150 staff & visitors of the Scientific Research Directorate (Nov 06)

"There is evidence of a systematic and very sad attempt to drain Iraq of its rains."
Adnan Pahachi, Iraqi politician and ex-governing council member (Nov 06)

"The terrorists want an Iraq of uneducated people, an Iraq of criminals."
Said Ali al-Salihi, 21-year old student at College of Sciences (Nov 06)

"They want to get rid of educated people and create a vacuum to be filled by them."
Academic who has escaped to US, former Dean of Baghdad University (Nov 06)

"You have to understand our circumstances. We cannot perform well on the exam because of the problems in Baghdad. You have to help and if you do not you and your family will be killed."
Anonymous letter containing AK47 bullet delivered to A.M.Taleb, Dean of College of Sciences, Baghdad University (July 06)

"At Baghdad University, 300 staff members have requested one-year leaves of absence to flee the violence and about half of all professors will spend the summer out of the country."
Mosa al-Mosawe, President, Baghdad University (July 06)

"The religious people are taking over the universities, and all secular people are being driven out ... I've been warned not to come back."
Mustaffa al-Hiti, Former Dean College of Pharmacy, Baghdad University and now Member of Parliament (July 06)

"This is a radical religious movement and they want power... The problem is that nobody talks about it because everyone is afraid."
Professor Juwab Abur Rafal, Professor of Mass Media (July 06)

"Under the Americans and British occupation, Iraqi academics are being forced out of their jobs and their country under the veil of politics. This is especially true for female Iraqi academics, who once made up nearly half of Iraqi academics in higher institutions and now fear for their lives and the lives of their families. In and outside the workplace they are being targeted by extremists and by the occupiers - more than 200 prominent Iraqi academics have been assassinated in the past three years alone. Those who are not assassinated are abducted or forced out of the country. Iraq is suffering from a huge brain drain that will not be compensated for another 20 years. This is a dramatic loss for the country and, without Iraq's educated middle class, we will be sure to see a rise in sectarianism and extremism, which is what the occupier wants."
Prominent internationally respected Iraqi academic who can't be identified for fear of repercussions (March 06)

"University staff suspect there is a campaign to strip Iraq of its academics to complete the destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage, which began when America entered Baghdad."
Robert Fisk, Independent's Middle East Correspondent (July 04)

"Not one single crime (ie. killings of academics) has been brought to justice. We have gone to the UN, US and UK ambassadors, the Arab League. No one cares. Murders reported to the Americans always elicit the same response: Oh, but he was a Baathist."
Saad Jawad, Professor of Political Science, Baghdad University (Feb 04)