Women in Bastan Village, Kurdistan

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Basra Peace Run: Yes, Yes to Peace-- Basra, Iraq

Imagine this: running in the streets of Basra, Iraq in the name of peace and non-violence. Retaking the streets. The slogan: Basrah, city of peace…Iraqis discussing the issues that most matter to them. This is not a product of my imagination, it actually happened last weekend and it was historical. The best part; I was part of it.
Running Line, Basra Peace Run, Basra, Iraq. Photo by Laura Battaglia

Basra Peace Run, Basra, Iraq. Photo by Laura Battaglia

Young people in Basrah took back their streets through a peace run. For some hours the streets of Basrah felt the sound of peace. Being the only woman running felt initially scary, but special. All people around me, especially children were encouraging, including the police guarding the run, which pushed their guns aside and were filming with their mobiles, smiling and affirming that peace was in the air. The participants were chanting: naam, naam li salam! Yes, yes to peace!

Award for the slowest and fastest runner of my category.
Basra Peace Run, Basra, Iraq. Photo by Laura Battaglia

Everybody won the race, the people of Basrah won and peace won. For sure this is the start of many other sports events reaffirming that Iraq is moving towards a future of peace.

At the same time in the north of Iraq, in the Kurdistan Region’s capital, Erbil, 5000 people representing 40 countries ran on a similar event.

Sometimes imagining the impossible can make things possible. As I was arriving to the finishing line, an Iraqi man came to me and smiling gave me a thumbs up and with it handed me a medal from the Iraqi National Football Team, as an affirmation of peace. Eventually I got another medal. I guess I was the only one in may category. I felt very blessed and humbled.

Basrah, once the garden of Eden, now recovering from decades of war, a city of peace with its beautiful people and a symbol of what the rest of Iraq will be in the future.

Running for Peace in Basra. Photo by Laura Battaglia

No comments:

Post a Comment