August 7, 2006

Iraqi woman’s blog taken on stage

By Paul Majendie

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - "Is it time to wash our hands of the
country and find a stable life somewhere else?"

The question in "Girl Blog from Iraq" was posted only last
weekend by an anonymous young Iraqi woman whose weblog has now
been adapted into a theatrical documentary at the Edinburgh
Fringe arts festival.

Played by actresses of Palestinian, Syrian, Iranian and
Iraqi origin, she recounts the horrors of abduction, murder and
rape alongside her determined efforts to carve out a normal
life amid the carnage.

"It is exciting when she posts as we know she is OK. All of
a sudden you are reminded how real and immediate this all is,"
said Kimberly Kefgen who adapted the weblog with Loren Ingrid

Known only as "Riverbend," the Iraqi blogger has been
providing regular dispatches since August 2003, writing in her
first entry: "I'm female, Iraqi and 24. I survived the war.
That is all you need to know. It's all that matters."

The blog was praised by the New York Times who said her
"articulate, even poetic prose packs an emotional punch while
exhibiting a journalist's eye for detail."

Her online diary on, which
was collected together and issued by Marion Boyars Publishers,
was nominated for a major literary prize in Britain.


The tone of the diary has markedly changed since war's end.

In March, she wrote: "Even the most cynical war critics
couldn't imagine the country being this bad three years after
the war ... God protect us from the fourth year."

Kefgen said: "She has an indomitable spirit and a great
ability to hold on to her humanity. But she is certainly
getting more disillusioned."

Asked if this was agitprop theater, she said: "We don't
want to preach."

"But I am ashamed that we in America have allowed this
administration the leeway we have."

Kefgen and Noveck kept returning to the power of the blog
as the most effective message.

In the latest update, Riverbend reflects on the Middle East
conflict, especially the Israeli air attack on the Lebanese
village of Qana that killed 57 civilians, mainly children.

"I woke up this morning to scenes of carnage and
destruction on the television and for the briefest of moments I
thought it was footage of Iraq. It took me a few seconds to
realize it was actually Qana in Lebanon.

"I just sat there and cried in front of the television. I
didn't know I could feel that sort of sorrow toward what has
become a daily reality for Iraqis. It's not Iraq but it might
as well be."