Aisha Al-Jubouri, a 26-year-old political scientist from Baghdad, began using Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for educational outreach. Thousands of followers and support from Iraqi writer Shahad Al-Rawi followed. She defends democracy and secularism, which doesn’t always generate positive feedback.
Ms. Al-Jubouri, what was your motivation for founding the channel?
Through my studies in political science, we did a lot of research on the importance of political education and political participation in order to have a successful political system. I realized then that despotic political regimes neglect this aspect, which should be provided by the family, school, university, civil society institutions, and media, etc. I understood that these regimes do not want politically informed citizens.
Here I began to think, what can I do to spread political awareness? There is nothing more Besse-res than social networks to achieve this, since we are all there. I chose Instagram as a platform that most people love, then Twitter because of its political importance, and Facebook because of the desire of my followers.
What are obstacles to your work? How is your concept perceived?
In my country, and in the Arab world in general, everyone learns about politics from news broadcasts. Only a few people know about politics and are interested in it as a science. At the beginning, when I talked about politics as a science, I received some comments and messages like, “Don’t use academic jargon,” “Tell us more about the news,” or “What do you think about what happened today?”
I responded by explaining: my goal is to spread political awareness and explain political concepts in an unbiased way. Because there is always a gap between theory and practice. For example, because of the government’s policies after the 2003 occupation, many Iraqis believe that democracy is a failed system. When in fact, Iraq’s governments have not implemented democracy as they should. So my role here is to explain democracy and other models of government. Now most of my followers are aware of my work and I no longer receive such messages.
What else would you like to achieve with your channel?
I would like to achieve two things: I believe that people in developed countries should have political awareness. Therefore, I want to spread this awareness among the population. In doing so, I try to help my country and everyone who needs it with content from my studies.
In my opinion, political science is a very important discipline. Unfortunately, it is marginalized in the Arab world. Graduates don’t get job opportunities in this field. They remain unemployed or work in other fields that are far from their profession. That’s why I try to make people understand the importance of this discipline. Sometimes I receive negative and insulting comments when I discuss concepts that are rejected by the supporters of the ruling system. For example, secularism and the importance of separation of religion and state.
What are the reactions from your followers?
I have followers of all ages, most of them are young men and women, whose reactions are mostly posi-tive. Every day I receive many nice comments and messages that encourage me to continue. For example, “Your content is unique and unusual in social media, please keep doing it.” Or “I didn’t care about politics and because of you I understand it better.”
These responses give me the motivation and energy to keep improving my work.
Do you get any help or support for your work?
When I posted the first video, the first person to support me was Iraqi writer Shahad Al Rawi. She is the author of the famous novel “The Baghdad Watch.” I was happy to meet her. She encouraged me to continue, her support means a lot to me. After some time, I received more help from the Iraqi actress Hind Kamel, who is very famous in Iraq and in the Arab world. She always encourages me with the right words and emphasizes the importance of what I have to say. Many content creators on social media have supported me by sharing my videos and posts and introducing what I offer to their followers. Even the Iraqi Women’s Rights Organization posted an article about me on their social media pages.
You participated in an Al Jazeera training program. Did that influence your work?
It was a great experience that taught me how to handle the camera, how to work as a news anchor and talk show host, how to formulate questions and much more. I think my training at Al Jazeera Network is a good start to enter the media world.
What is your impression of the current politics of the European Union?
In my opinion, politics is a world that makes some people happy and some people suffer. As a woman born in a country full of wars where children lack the most basic human rights and freedoms, I think Germany’s and the European Union’s policies are mostly successful. Especially Germany’s policy towards refugees has been really amazing. I appreciate the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. I consider her an outstanding political personality. She is also an example of a strong and successful woman.
What possibilities do you see to achieve more stability in countries like Iraq? How do you assess external political influence on the country?
Iraq is a country with many nationalities, religions and sects. In my opinion, it needs to achieve peaceful coexistence among its components. This is impossible to achieve under religious rule and political Islam. Few are satisfied with the current situation, especially since the political class uses religion as a cover for corruption to advance personal interests.
Iraq also lacks the most basic human rights and freedoms. This was evident during the last October Revolution, which began in 2019 and killed more than 700 people and wounded more than 20,000. Most of them were young men and women. Many journalists and activists were also killed. This is the biggest evidence that Iraq is being ruled by force of arms and not by rule of law.
What is your assessment of the external political influence on the country?
One of the countries that interferes the most in Iraq’s affairs is Iran. Because of the weakness of the Iraqi governments after 2003 and because of the loyalty of the majority of the ruling clas-se to it. Thus, it controls Iraq and always tries to impose Iran’s interests in Iraq. Foreign interference should be stopped in general, but especially that of Iran. No country has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of another country and control it. The Iraqi political class must be loyal to Iraq, and its main responsibility and task is to enforce the interests of its own people.
What should be done first?
To achieve stability in Iraq, it is important to establish democracy in the right way. Therefore, Iraq should become a secular or civil state and remove religion from politics to achieve peaceful coexistence. In the current situation, the rule of law should be established for peace and security. And of course, it is important to raise people’s consciousness and put belonging to humanity and Iraq above belonging to other countries.
Thank you very much for your time and this interview!
You will find work from Aisha Al-Jubouri on
and Twitter: https://twitter.com/aisha_aljubouri