Interview for

Basma Alawee

7/31/2020

Interviewed By:

Chesley Chan

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 49:40
Summary

An Iraqi refugee raised in Baghdad, Basma discusses her experience in a family of both Shia and Sunni members, the worsening conditions in Iraq following U.S. intervention, and the financial struggles and discrimination she faced upon resettlement in the U.S. She also describes the sense of safety that religious spaces provided after resettlement, and her current efforts to support refugees and immigrants.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

Narrator: Basma Alawee

Date: 07/31/2020

Location: Jacksonville, Florida


Content Warning: Violence and war.

Summary: An Iraqi refugee raised in Baghdad,  Basma discusses her experience in a family of both Shia and Sunni members, the worsening conditions in Iraq following U.S. intervention, and the financial struggles and discrimination she faced upon resettlement in the U.S. She also describes the sense of safety that religious spaces provided after resettlement, and her current efforts to support refugees and immigrants.

Topics: Family, Religion, Childhood, Politics, War, Discrimination, Financial Struggles, Cultural Adjustment, Career, Immigration Process


Outline

Section 1: (00:00-11:14)

  • Family, Religion - Grew up in Baghdad, where her family was from both the Shia and Sunni regions of the city.

  • Religion, Childhood - Since a young age, she wanted to learn about people of other religions and understand the diversity of thought and experiences within each.

  • Family, Religion - She identified as Muslim and had family members who identified both as Shia and Sunni.

Section 2: (11:14-23:32)

  • Politics - Saddam Hussein began to attack Shia, Kurds, and Kuwait; US intervened in 2003, but the situation only got worse since then.

  • Could not speak about religion or politics in public.

  • Religion - Minor differences exist between Sunni and Shia practices; while her parents were Shia, her husband is Sunni, so she is familiar with both sects.

Section 3: (23:32-33:48)

  • Politics, War - Most people in Iraq did not support Hussein or the wars that he waged.

  • Family, War - One of her cousins was a soldier and was killed by a bomb, which impacted the family deeply.

  • Religion, Discrimination - Religion was so deeply ingrained in Iraqi society and people were killed and persecuted on the basis of religion.

Section 4: (33:48-49:36)

  • Financial Struggles - After resettling, she was on food stamps and initially faced financial struggles, which made her feel like her dignity was affected.

  • Cultural Adjustment - Experienced a culture shock after moving to America.

  • Discrimination - Experienced discrimination when she lived in Orlando, but the Muslim community has grown since then.

  • Religion - The mosque was a safe space and a home for her after immigrating.

  • Politics - Wants to give back to others and support equality for all people.

  • Career, Immigration Process - Created an organization, WeaveTales, sharing the stories of refugees and immigrants.