Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Iraq The Model's Omar - Blogging's Modest Superstar

He's the Beckham of Bloggers.

Amidst the vast realms and recesses of the Millions Strong Blogosphere crisscrossing the Great Planet, very few Bloggers are Identified - Widely Known by One Name. Omar from
Iraq The Model
is the exception.

Omar! Omar! Omar!

Omar is an Iraqi Blogging Superstar, Dentist, Ardent Supporter of Freedom and Democracy in Iraq, and co-developer of a tool that allows millions of voices that ere
previously excluded from the Internet to finally be heard.

And in: The In T View: Iraq The Model's Omar - Blogging's Modest Superstar, we explore Omar's thoughts on Iraq, Islam, Dentistry, Blogging, Commentators, Picking Up Chicks, Freedom, Book Deals, and a whole lot more.

It's The In T View: Iraq The Model's Omar - Blogging's Modest Superstar

MG: Omar, How the Hell are you these days?

Omar: I'm fine as hell!

MG: Okay, let's talk about the Biggest Rumors that are associated with you:

Rumor 1: The Brothers Fadhil and you have a Book Deal or are writing a book. Can you
clarify this issue?

Omar: As you just described it my friend, these are rumors; there's no such deal and we're not working on a book but if a deal is offered we will think about it for sure.

MG: Rumor 2: You have lots of American Girlfriends. Any comments?

Omar: I have lots of American friends, both men and women but no girlfriends*.

MG: Rumor 3: You and the Brothers work for a certain American Spy Agency. LOL. Hmmm?

Omar: Actually we work for an extra-terrestrial spy agency from Jupiter.

MG:Speaking of which, if you're really on the CIA's payroll, shouldn't you be making more than a Iraqi Dentist's salary?

Omar: I don't know exactly how much money the CIA offers but those purple guys
from Jupiter pay really good money! You want me to talk to them? Maybe I can find you a job with us.

MG: Do you give discounts to pretty Female Patients or at least give them a free shot of Novocaine on the house?

Omar: A patient is a patient (in the same way that a customer is a customer),
that's how I do any kind of business and by the way I don't have my own clinic.

MG: Do Male Iraqi Dentists treat female patients or is their Sexual Segregation, with Women Dentists treating female patients?

Omar: There's no such segregation; I worked in a place where the majority of the population is very committed She'at in the marshes area for one year and the female/male patient ratio was close to 3/2.

MG: When you were growing up, did you say to yourself, "Omar, you are going to be one Bad Ass Iraqi Dentist someday." Just kidding. Why did you choose to become a

Omar: I didn't choose dentistry out of love for dentistry at that time. My marks qualified me to get any college I wanted but I saw Ali studying medicine and I saw Mohammed studying dentistry and I made a comparison between the two colleges (not professions) and dentistry won, one year less at college, less books to read, more
practical and more fun.

When I was a kid I wanted to become a pilot (typical kid dreams I guess) but later at high school I realized that I was fond of physics but the poor future for graduates of that college made me discard the idea. I still love physics till this moment. Anyway, I don't regret being a dentist; it's a nice profession.

MG: Did you ever think of leaving Iraq and moving to America to become the
Dentist To The Stars? You know Brad Pitt there, has a seperate dentist for each
one of his teeth, and right now, I think there's a vacancy with his upper left bicuspid.

Omar: If that's true about Brad Pitt, then I announce him a tooth-freak! No, really, I like the place where I live and I wish it becomes as modern and civilized as the States are.

MG: Is dentistry a lucrative profession in Iraq? When you're introduced as a Dentist to friends and strangers, do women, particularly Moms with unmarried daughters, see Dinar Signs in their eyes, when they learn of your profession and want you to meet their 35-year-old unmarried daughter Fatima? Unfortunately, Fatima usually has a unibrow and a bushier mustache than you do.

Omar: LOL, not exactly because being a dentist has more social value than material (economic) value; it's a classy profession but it isn't an indication of being rich.

MG: And speaking of your mustache, Omar, I don't want to hurt your feelings,
but it's kind of wimpy looking. Do you ever wish you had one of those full-figured,
Charles Bronson, "Back Away From Me Punk" macho type stashes?

Omar: I don't feel hurt at all! It's actually funny; the truth is that I don't pay much attention to the way I look. I usually have a very short moustache (although I had a thick one two years ago) I graded the hair clipper so that it keeps my moustache at 2mm high and I trim it every other day but when I'm busy I forget or ignore doing this for a week or more and that's when the wimpy looking moustache appears.

MG: How difficult is it to critique and criticize Islam in a nation with a
Majority Muslim population?

Omar: Criticizing any religion as a whole is not a good idea regardless of the
place but I can show criticism to certain ideas I consider wrong but I usually tend
to avoid having such discussions with extremists of either sect.

MG: Omar, I believe there are two forces in Iraq that have the unique ability
to unite all the Iraqis from the Shias to Kurds, Sunnis to Islamicists, Baathists to Christians. And those are Soccer, and Jennifer Aniston's Hair.

MG: Can you explain to me the smoldering Mid East Love Affair with Jennifer Aniston's hair?

Omar: I'm not really fond of Aniston but I think she has a nice hair. I actually find Angelina Jolie more attractive.

MG: Let's try a little Word Association, Omar:


Omar: Fake

Muqti al Sadr

Omar: One digit IQ

Salam Pax

Omar: A spark

Al Jazeera

Omar: You mean Al-Bin Ladeera?

Sam from Hammorabi

Omar: Can do better

Ladybird from Baghdad Dweller

Omar: Promising blogger

MG: Will you be attending the Raed Jarrar and Nikki the Irani's Wedding?

Omar: I hate weddings

MG: Omar, how did you become interested in Blogging and how did your Blog: Iraq The Model come about?

Omar: We-the three of us-were searching for a way to enter the world of the internet and we were trying to find a way to start our own website as we had a LOT to say but technical difficulties stood in our way until Zeyad one day told me and AYS that he started a "blog".

Okay, what the hell is that? Was my question. He explained the outlines of the idea to me and within less than a week Iraq the Model and Iraq at a Glance were up. By the way, Mohammed chose the name of the blog.

MG: How well known is Iraq The Model in Iraq?

Omar: Not well known as far as I know, only friends and family know that we run this blog and I receive a few e mails every now and then from readers in Iraq.

MG: How does the Media in Iraq treat Iraqi Blogs? Do they even know they exist
or just become aware of them, when they need to swipe a photo?

Omar: The 2nd choice; they become aware of them only when they need to swipe a photo.

MG: Omar, as ITM has become more well known, do you feel your safety and security have been compromised?

Omar: I think I was more concerned about personal safety and security when I started the blog than I am right now.

MG: Besides your Blog, are there any other Blogs you like to read?

Omar: I check about 60 or 70 blogs twice everyday but I especially enjoy reading a number of blogs like Instapundit, Buzz Machine, Chrenkoff, Roger Simon and Harry's Place as well as a number of military blogs and Iraqi blogs written in English and in Arabic.

MG: Omar, let's talk a little bit about the commentators to your Blog, those people who share their opinions, links, and questions, after each and every one of ITM's Postings. So, how do you feel towards ITM's Commentators?

Omar: I say that blogging can't be complete without comments and I really consider many most of the commentators as friends but I wish the commentators would stick more to the topic of the post.

MG: Will you be adopting a Registration System for your Comments Section soon?

Omar: I'm not working on that right now, maybe in the future.

MG: And you deleted about 120 comments from a recent thread, provoking cries of anguish from many of the posters. Did you have a reason to delete those comments?

Omar: I deleted exactly 83 comments, not 120 and of course I had a reason; I
deleted only the comments that were off topic and that were related to the stupid and racist conversation that took place that day. I am not sure I took the right move but I am sure that engaging someone in an "impotent or sterile" conversation is not smart at all. So I wanted to put an end to these conversations. I expect that anyone would be pissed of when he finds that only 6 out of 90 comments posted on his blog were related to his post.

MG: What's the Iraqi's people's favorite brand of toothpaste?

Omar: The most common brand is a Turkish one called Sanino, but a lot of
people prefer Signal-2, I like Close Up more.

MG: Do you have any Pets?

Omar: I don't have any pets at the moment but I had different pets at earlier
times. Frankly speaking, our home used to look like a Zoo at certain times.

MG: What's the best way to mitigate against Terrorism, other than shooting the
Terrorists in the Head, which is my preferred method?

Omar: I think shooting them in the head is just a symptomatic treatment, i.e. it relieves the situation for a while but doesn't eradicate the origin of the disease.

We need to prove that their ideology is wrong by showing the people that democracy, respect for human rights and tolerance can bring prosperity and protect everyone's rights. Terrorism grows and flourishes under tyrannies (although in a latent form
sometimes) so I believe that fighting terrorism militarily should go side
by side with building a state of law, human rights and democracy.

MG: Tell us about the Spirit of America and how you got involved with the organization?

Omar: I had a link on my blog to Spirit of America long before we started to cooperate on a number of projects that aim at promoting democracy and freedom of speech. The practical involvement began when one of our dearest friends, Kerry Dupont who was the project manager of that organization for some time introduced us to Jim Hake, the founder of Spirit of America. The most important project we worked together on was developing the Arabic blogging tool and I'm really proud of being part of this project which is proving sizable success.

MG: Omar, you helped develop the Arabic Blogging Tool. What exactly is it and what does it do for those of an Arabic persuasion?

Omar: The idea is pretty simple, we took an almost ready tool and translated the buttons and key words to make it easier for non-English speaking users and the tool was modified to better accept Arabic texts (you know the right to left vs. left to right thing).

The tool also provides the user with the ability to publish pictures, audio and even
video files for free, i.e. no upgrade fees required.

MG: So Omar, what is the typical Omar move when you're trying to impress an Iraqi Hottie Woman? Do you tell her, "Hey Baby, I'm very good at filling all your cavities, if you know what I mean?"

Omar: LOL, no really, I'm not good at flirting and when I try to impress a hottie I just ignore her! A technique that had been successful in keeping me as single as a plagued dog!

MG: Omar, what does Freedom mean to you and how can the Iraqi people safeguard this newfound Freedom?

Omar: Freedom is life to me. Iraqis can safeguard their freedom by respecting each other's freedoms.

MG: Omar, when you're knock-knock-knocking on Heaven's Door and about to draw
your Final Breath, will you be able to say to yourself, "Omar Fadhil, you have lived your life to the fullest and you have made the world a better place?"

Omar: If this is to happen soon, then I think I won't be qualified to say that.

MG: What Does God or Allah mean to you?

Omar: The living conscience.

MG: The great majority of Muslims around the world, even those living in the West, seem to have a hard time questioning Islam and especially the Prophet. Why? Do you think this is ok? It must take courage to go against that trend.

Omar: This is not okay for sure. Lots of myths and wrong ideas and practices were introduced into Islam over the past 14 centuries and if Muslims want to keep
their belief alive they must overcome this fear and start questioning things.

What many people unfortunately fail to understand/remember is that Islam didn't
come up with rigid molds; instead Islam provided EXAMPLES and asked the people
to work their minds to find solutions for future similar problems that would
definitely be different from the troubles existed at the time when Quran came.

God, through the Quran itself asked Muslims to THINK and ASK in order to reach the truth and I believe that intimidating people and preventing them from practicing their right of thinking is a harsh violation to human rights.

MG: Is Islam really compatible with Women's Rights?

Omar: Islam in the form it came in 14 centuries ago is not compatible with TODAY'S women rights but at that time it granted women many rights they were deprived of. The nature and needs of societies change with time, that's why civic laws and constitutions are written. No society can exclusively depend on a legislation written hundreds or thousands years ago and at the same time seeks progress.

MG: What is the most beautiful place in Iraq to you?

Omar: Any place the Tigris or the Euphrates passes through. I also like the
mountains and waterfalls in Kurdistan as well as the marshes. It's really hard to
decide which place is more beautiful.

MG: Omar, What is your biggest fear?

Omar: Snakes!

MG: Saddam's regime stole 50 years of progress in Iraq - In the 50's Iraq was more progressive than any Arab nations, it was secular, it had a real economy, and women were active in the society. Do you think Iraq can reach that level again or even go beyond it?

Omar: I believe Iraq can go beyond that and we can already see signs pointing in this direction especially on the political aspect but to have an overall major progress that put Iraq in the front again, it will take maybe 10 years.

MG: If some one asked you to describe the differences between Iraqis and Americans, what would you say?

Omar: I don't think I can give a full essay on this subject but I've noticed that Americans are more hardworking than Iraqis in general and they also have a greater respect for time (not respecting time is a 3rd world trait by the way!).

Another weird difference I noticed is that most Americans hate American cars while most Iraqis love American cars.

However, I have noticed (and this may sound bizarre) that Americans and Iraqis have more things in common than either of them have with most Europeans, especially when it comes to keeping a sense of humor at the hardest times. Maybe I'm wrong but believe me; this is how I see it.

MG: What do you wish for your children and future generations in Iraq?

Omar: I wish they get to live in a violence-free, oppression-free Iraq where
they can get all what they deserve.

MG: That's very much for a Nice Interview, Omar, and Final Question: Have you ever seen a Ghost?

Omar: Would they still be considered ghosts if one got to see them?

(And Special Thanks to Diane Carriere for additional questions.)


At 8:52 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading that. thank you.


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