Houzan Mahmoud

I am happy to have survived, but I always remember those who didn’t make it

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An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. She discusses: impact of war on personal life; injustice and death in home territory; the impulse for war and atrocities; previous and current Iraq governments; respects for Kurds and Kurdish Culture; impact on women and children, as innocents in general; and rebuilding a generation who lost education, nutrition, family members, and reliable governmental support and institutions.

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A.: Co-Founder, Culture Project (Part one)  

1.Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When I reflect on the nature of war and conflict, the statistics tell one story. The personal narratives tell another. You experienced war, so I want to explore the latter with you. We did some work together, whether interviews or editing articles for Culture Project. How did war impact your life?

Houzan Mahmoud: This is a long story. It’s not easy to describe it. I shared the pain and sorrow of horrors of war with my family, friends, neighbours, and thousands of others. Therefore, telling my own story might be a fraction of a very small part of a huge story, the problem is those people who haven’t seen war, and only get statistics about it. They really have no clue how ugly, insane, and inhumane war is.

There is nothing humane about it. It’s only about bullets, air raids, bombardments, and shootings. It is all about sounds, sounds of bombs, and the wounded, really nasty and annoying sounds of different levels. Sometimes, even when the war is over, it stays with you.

Anything that falls, breaks, or explodes, even if it has nothing to do with war. It still connects with the images of war, the sounds and noises, and the destruction comes alive again in your mind. There is another thing I hate most along with war: the military uniform, especially of those that belonged to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

That particular clothing of men and their guns was repulsive, as it will always stay in your mind as a symbol of killing. Men in uniforms who kill. I spent the first twenty years of my life like this. I witnessed the Iraq-Iran war, the sanctions, the first Gulf War, then the Kurdish uprising in 1991 and its aftermath of instability.

2. Jacobsen: How did you cope, if you did, experiencing or witnessing widespread injustice and death in the home territory?

Mahmoud: Interestingly, you do cope. Sometimes, you get used to the situation. You become creative in finding life in small things that might have not mattered to you before. You try your best to protect your life, because it becomes more precious to you. You will do your best to live.

You want to live more. It may be the idea of a better life and future helped us to cope better. The idea that one day the war will be over. That we can start a normal life again. The reality is even when the war ends life is never like before again. By the end of the war, we would have lost many of our loved ones. We would have sorrowed and grieved.

Sometimes, you might even think the dead are the luckiest because they are gone, and we are here to pick up pieces, to mourn and to remember the bombs, the rockets, the air raids, in addition to living under dictator.

To sum up, the love of life, the beauty of this planet, and my ideals for a world without war, without the suffering of human beings keeps me going. I enjoy nature. I love seeing flowers, trees, and parks, but also human creativity such as art, music, cinema, and dance.

There is a lot to be happy about in life. I see all of what happened to me as different chapters of my life. Today, I live a new chapter of my life. I am happy to have survived, but I always remember those who didn’t make it. Their memories will stay with me forever.

3. Jacobsen: What impulse does war serve for us? Why do men commit most of the atrocities, to you?

Mahmoud: It is hard to have this discussion, there has been a lot of writings, talks and research into ‘why war happens?’ From sociological, psychological, political, economic and cultural aspects, at the same time, it’s hard to come up with one concrete answer.

Let’s not forget that after the First World War, there were more than ten million people who died in the battle fields in Europe.  Two leading thinkers (Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein) started to debate as to why, what could be the reason. Is it human’s destructive impulse, the lust for hate and destruction as Einstein wrote to Freud? What could be the reason?

They were shocked and burdened by the war themselves, but, look, even the Second World War broke out, and then many more wars across the world in different times and places.

I find it hard to solely blame this on human nature and assert that humans by nature harbour hate and violence. A lot of this violence and hatred is learnt. It is taught by the state through its apparatuses such as education, military, religion, media, and political ideology in general.

I have been at the receiving end of so many wars. I never wanted to be; I never harboured hate towards the people on the other side.

I saw a state, a bloody nation-state, backed by international forces, where weapons were sold to Iraq and Iran by the “civilised” western government, but we the ordinary people on both sides were the victims. Or those who were forced into military conscription had to go and fight a war that had nothing to do with them. So many soldiers who were ordinary people from the poor background died in these wars for nothing.

In our case, even when I look at it now, a lot of countries in the Middle East are drowning in bloodshed. There is a huge intervention by imperialists. They have an interest – both political and economic.

I, therefore, would find a Marxian approach to war more accurate in terms of its focus on modern wars are results of the competition for resources and markets between great imperialist powers, maintaining that these wars are expected consequences of the capitalist class system and their free market.

You hardly see men from the upper ruling classes die in these wars. You see mostly or only the poor who in the process of war become a burning fuel for the capitalist killing machines. Imperialists vying for the monopoly of power, expansion, and resources using religion, race, nationality, and other excuses to invade, kill, and occupy places.

4. Jacobsen: How does the current leadership of Iraq compare with the prior leadership?

Mahmoud: It is really not a good idea to compare. What do I compare this new Iraqi regime with? With the previous regime of genocide, dictatorship, a government that was responsible for mass graves and mass exactions? It is very sad to be comparing regimes after forty years of oppression and dictatorship.

The current Iraqi regime was a product of US/UK occupation, so they gave birth to it. It is an ethno-sectarian and religious establishment. They are so corrupt and indulged in inner fighting between different sects of Islam. They didn’t have time to fight with Kurds in the beginning.

There was the referendum of Kurdistan, which was even non-binding, where people peacefully voted and expressed their wish to be independent from Iraq. Yet, they brought their worst militias to invade Kurdistan and the language they use in their media and official statements is very similar to the language that was used under Saddam’s regime against Kurds. I have opposed this Islamist and ethno-sectarian regimes from its establishment and there is no hope in them.

5. Jacobsen: Do they respect the Kurds or Kurdish culture?

Mahmoud: They respect no one, let alone Kurds. These are militia-based political parties, extremely sectarian. They act as mercenaries for regional as well as international powers.

Kurds have always had high aspirations for freedom, social justice, and rights. They don’t accept being treated as second-class citizens in their own lands. We have a history of the struggle for our rights. We will oppose whoever undermines and takes away those rights from us: be it a Kurdish government or Arab, or Islamists, and so on.

It is a basic human dignity. No one accepts being degraded and treated like a half-human or subordinate. Kurdistan has always been the centre of progressive politics, the left and progressive movements always were established there. The current revolution of Rojava is the latest example of an inclusive, egalitarian alternative.

When political parties in the Iraqi government have no ideological bases that recognises basic human rights and dignity, then they haven’t learnt the lesson, they only continue with their nationalistic, almost fascistic, rhetoric of ‘Iraqi unity’, and so on. They have been dividing Iraq along lines of religious sects, ethnic backgrounds, and persecuting religious people who are not Muslims like Yezidis, Christians, and Shabaks.

Imagine if a government is such a failure and they have been fuelling the division and instead of making human rights and equal citizenship superior to every sectarian agenda then people will not call for break-up of Iraq.

6. Jacobsen: How does war impact women and children who remain innocent?

Mahmoud: Like in every war, women are the target due to their gender. Rape is always used as a weapon of war. For example, in the latest invasion of Kurdistan by Iraqi militias, there are many reports that they have raped Kurdish women and exploded homes of Kurdish civilians.

They are not even shy. They post them on social media, how they torture Kurdish men, how they kill them, and how they abuse the children and the elderly. Such militias are war criminals and mercenaries, who don’t think, but only kill and rape.

This takes the question to women’s armed resistance and how self-defence is as important as defending the cities from invaders. Unfortunately, these women were defenceless ordinary civilians, who never thought they would be victims of rape by the army or criminal gangsters of a government that claims to be our government and wants us to live in a “united” Iraq.

7. Jacobsen: How does a country rebuild a generation who lost education, nutrition, family members, and reliable governmental support and institutions?

Mahmoud: To such governments, people’s welfare is the last thing they would think about. Imagine that Iraq is turned into a mafia land, a bunch of mafia with armed militias, and weapons protecting only their own interest both politically and financially.

They always need a story to maintain a narrative that the “nation” or the “country” is in danger in order to start small wars to send poor people to be killed, then they make people forget about their rights, health, education, housing: everything.

They came to power in 2003. To this day, most people don’t have electricity, clean water, or medicine. Iraq, including Kurdistan, is up for grabs. This is how it has operated since then. Multinational companies and local corrupt rulers have turned people’s lives into a living hell. So, there are no institutions as such, all corrupt, and dysfunctional. They have more alignments to one party or another. The interests of the citizen is the last thing that counts.

Iraq is a name only, empty of content, empty of the most basic human rights and dignity. If you hear the rhetoric of politicians in these regions, what they say under the name of “nation,” “country,” and “our people” is overwhelming, you would say, “Wow, what great politicians, they love their people. They are doing all they can for them…” In reality, it’s only lies and nonsense. The rhetoric that every dictator is saying and using against the best interests of the common person, the citizenry.

I have lived and remember Iraq as this empty shell, where millions were killed and massacred for its sake, but it doesn’t really exist at least for its majority poor, who are workers and women.

It has never offered us, and particularly me, anything apart from suffering and loss.

That’s why I have dedicated all my life to support ordinary civilians, especially women throughout Iraq and Kurdistan who have been silenced and their rights are curtailed. So, I only have my voice to speak up, and a pen to write.I think this is enough for a feminist to expose these patriarchal, masculinist chauvinist, and dictatorial regimes.

(Part Two

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Take an example of a developed country such as the UK, or Canada, are they complicit in any of this activity in Iraq and regarding Kurdistan?

Houzan Mahmoud: The UK certainly was complicit in dividing Kurdistan among four countries, i.e. between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, due to this we have been suffering endlessly. After the fall of Ottoman Empire and the new reshaping of the map of the Middle East, the borders were drawn, genocides were taking place, and Kurds were denied their right to statehood.

For almost one century, in four different parts of Kurdistan, people waged different struggles – both armed and civilian struggles – to fight for their rights, freedoms, and independence. The four countries that we are confined within, their borders have continuously denied Kurds basic rights and inflicted genocide, imprisonment, and even cultural erasure.

These have been part of their policies towards Kurds. This is why most Kurds never felt a belonging to these countries. Rather, they felt oppressed, degraded, and colonised in their own homelands.

The West, of course, has always kept a blind eye to our suffering. Instead of recognising our rights, all they do, for example in the UK, is to emphasize the unity of Iraq. They know that Iraqi regimes have always oppressed people and carried out crimes against people throughout Iraq, especially against Kurds. Canada also was part of the coalition against Iraq in the first Gulf War in 1991.

2. Jacobsen: What are the quantitative details about women and children, and soldiers, who have been affected by the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

Mahmoud: This is beyond knowing. I don’t think even statistics can provide a true account of the loss of lives and casualties of these nasty wars. Although, when we think of war, people mainly think about the number of the dead, but we need to also think about those who are disabled, lost their loved ones, who are traumatised, and have to live with the sorrow of losing their loved one.

The consequences of any war and its damage is not only in the number of the dead, but in the entire destruction of lands, homes, dreams, and turning laughter into a long-lasting sadness. War can turn your life upside down within minutes.

I can think of the recent example of the invasion of Sinjar. The Yezidi town where ISIS killed so many of them. ISIS took the girls as sex slaves and sold so many of them in slave markets. Just imagine, so much crime within an eye blink turned so many lives into hell.

There is more ugliness, more crime, and atrocious outcomes that can never be fully investigated or accounted for, because so many complicit parties in wars don’t want to go into these details. All I really can say is in every war situation that the ordinary civilians have been and will be the main and only victims.

3. Jacobsen: I have helped with the Culture Project. What is it? How is it important to the Kurds and yourself?

Mahmoud: Well, let me tell you something Scott: first of all, thank you so much for your ongoing support, it means a lot to us and our writers and Kurdistan of course. In addition to the fact, that you are probably the first journalist who could make me visit my past as someone who grew up in a war zone, and reflect upon it, otherwise, I wouldn’t usually write or talk about it in such detail.

We have many wonderful writers in the Culture Project and want their work to be proofread and edited to encourage them to write more, and to be sure that their writings are of high calibre and importance.

Secondly, there are other wonderful supporters who were the backbone of Culture Project, one such person is Benjamin David founder of Conatus News, and writer and friend Sarah Mills who have helped tremendously. I want to thank you all for making time to support us, and our writers, essayist, activists and poets.

4. Jacobsen: How does the Culture Project act as a repository and incubator for the arts and culture of the Kurds?

Mahmoud: Culture Project is a unique project that promotes progressive ideals, and critical engagement with art, literature, music, feminism, and gender. We place the question of women in the heart of our project. This is why it is important to make sure our platform is supportive and encouraging to those who want to express their ideas in English.

We are trying to bridge between Kurdistan, its Kurdish diaspora, and the outside world through knowledge production about our society, art, literature, and cultural production, but from a critical point of view.

We are lucky to have a new wave of egalitarian and progressive generation of men and women, who are active against patriarchy, oppressive regimes, and are for rights and freedoms of women.

One highlight of this project is that it’s exposing Kurdish masculinity, violence against women, and advocates for feminism and feminist critique of artistic production that reinforces subordination of women.

5. Jacobsen: How can people help out? Can they donate money or expertise?

Mahmoud: We need all kinds of support. Financial support for our activities in Kurdistan and abroad. As well as expertise from those who know more about art, literature and editing, we need reviewers for artists’ work, music, films, and short stories as well as poetry. We have a wealth of Kurdish literature, art, and poetry that needs exploration and reviewing.

6. Jacobsen: We were talking one time about war and trauma, and women’s rights. You idly asked, “Why are people like this? Why do they go to war? Will they ever learn? Why do they repeat these same mistakes?” I mentioned the several tens of thousands of years of evolutionary history and gave an academic response.

You know Scott, sometimes, I realise that despite the wealth of literature on war, be it history books, poetry, photography, movies etc., some people still don’t ask themselves this simple question; why war?

Why should they support their oppressive governments into war? Hundreds of years of repetitive wars in different contexts and format, still humanity cannot learn from the past. It’s true most ordinary civilians are often opposed to war, but it is governments who decide it and they are the ruling class who do not suffer themselves but it’s the ordinary people who pay the price.

I wish one day comes when people no longer go to war on the order of their government. Another thing makes me feel sick when I think about it, is the use of science in the civilised west and its scientists who continue to produce latest weapons and atomic bombs. Have you realised how many governments possess atomic bombs?

Just imagine if they were used in any wars what will happen to our beautiful planet? To life, to people to animals, trees and flowers, to the birds and even insects? I wish the “clever” scientists of the advanced capitalist machine ask themselves this question why creating all these weapons? Why not try to find cure for disease instead?

Why not spend their lives in a good cause to serve humanity instead of thinking and working day and night of how to invent a new weapon, rocket, bomb or bullet. This is gross, this why sometimes I question the word “human beings” in this case, what kind of humans are they?

7. However, we kept going. You agreed with the explanation, but asked, “Why can’t people be like other animals, like the birds? All they do is sing.” We laughed about that. I reflect on that and think about it.

Mahmoud: Yes, indeed, we did speak about so many things and with some laughter. You know Scott, these issues are so tough, and sad. If I lose sense of humour, I might get trapped in these memories for ever in a very sad and traumatising way.

This not to reduce the importance of these issues. But for us as survivors and activists who fight against the causes of these wars and for rights of people, we have to be hopeful, full of life, and love laughter, songs, and music.

This is why I like birds. They produce these nice sounds, almost as a special song of their own. When I go to the park, especially to Hampstead Heath, I look out for the birds. Those who sing, without any particular reason. They just sing. This makes me happy.

You know Scott, the more we read about war academically or in literature or poetry, even in photos or art about war, it still cannot tell us enough about the reasons of why wars still happen. Why men specifically speaking go to war or make war?

The problem is end of one war is the start of another one. This is what I have seen in my life. No reasoning, justification or excuse can legitimize any war in my opinion.

As much as I am against war, and hate war, and those who start war, I think to myself, “When you are invaded, then you need resistance. When there is resistance, there is glorification. When there is glorification, then there is sacrifice and the story goes on, till we see there is too much destruction and many lives are lost.”

Growing up as a Kurd, we were and still always are a project for invasion and colonisation. This is why resistance is important and often necessary to survival.

I hope there comes one day when the capitalist countries stop making weapons and selling them to our government. I hope that human beings come to a state where they no longer resort to war and invasion of other countries. I just want to live in peace and see peace prevail on our planet.

An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A.: Co-Founder, Culture Project (Part Three)

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When it comes to the catastrophes and tragic consequences of war, literature and poetry provide windows through the confusion and misunderstanding around the horrors and miseries, and misinformation and disinformation, around war. Any Kurdish artists or authors who speak of war?

Houzan Mahmoud: Well, I think wars always existed from the ancient times until today, in different times and under different pretexts: be it tribal, religious, nationalistic, or imperialistic. Different people relate to war in different ways.

Women, men, poets, writers, activists, victims, and soldiers have their own stories to tell us. Literature and poetry also at times play a role in either promoting war, or depicting its causes and consequences in a way that people relate to it, or it shows the suffering and sorrows experienced during the war.

Due to the many ordeals Kurds have suffered and continue to suffer, various poets and novelists, both men and women narrated the war and its aftermath.

2. Jacobsen: Pain and misery are inevitable parts of life, but they can be mitigated. At times, war becomes necessary. What pretexts seem reasonable for war? Obviously, many wars barely meet minimal standards and violate so many things.

Mahmoud: Well, most wars are really useless and baseless with the consequences of the killing of ordinary civilians and sending soldiers to battlefields to destroy lives and lands, which are crimes that do not deserve legitimisation.

Resistance is necessary only when you are invaded. You have no other option apart from resisting and defending your life and land. The latest example is an ISIS attack on Kurdistan, where people women, men, old and young all took up arms to defend their cities and lives.

ISIS could not be stopped through negotiations, as they view Kurds as infidels, and, therefore, their lands, possessions, and women are spoils of war. It’s a jihad in their eyes.  With such an abhorrent collective religious attitude, what else one can do apart from resisting?

It is in such cases when I see resistance as a must and essential to survival.

3. Jacobsen: What do you value more coming out of the trauma of war? How does feminist activism embolden you?

Mahmoud: The fact that I am still alive and can experience life itself is an achievement. I grew up in a war zone, as I explained in other parts of this interview, because I was living in Kurdistan-Iraq. We were under the dictatorship too. One war after another, there was a constant atmosphere of fear, anxiety, and worry.

Not knowing what will happen next, where will we end up? How will we be killed? Even, how soon?

In addition to this, I grew up in a political family, who were involved in armed struggle against Saddam’s dictatorship. I grew up in a house where political activists would always come and discuss politics, Left perspectives on social issues, secularism, Marxism, and so on.

My best time was when summer holidays would come around for us. I would go to visit my brothers and their comrades in the mountains. We had to go to see them, secretly, without the regime knowing; otherwise, we would have been arrested.

Everything was dangerous. I could see all these partisans; wonderful comrades who were so dedicated to a noble cause for ordinary people.  I loved being around them.

I was very little. As years passed by, I experienced all of these wars and the dictatorship. It didn’t feel like anything; it became part of our lives. In other words, it became a way of life.

One thing I remember is, I felt numb. I couldn’t really think or figure out what was going on and why; there was no time to reflect on that or to discuss it, even think about what was happening.

One thing, which probably saved me, was to be surrounded by my revolutionary family, who had hope for a better future, who fought for it, but sadly in this process we lost our beloved brother.

He was assassinated by the regime. I was only fifteen when he was assassinated near our house, I could hear the shooting, when we went out we saw our brother killed. This is when the war, dictatorship, revolution, sacrifices, and politics all became real.

Before this, I felt I was in a cloud, or in a bubble maybe, but the horror was so real at that moment. I feel the shock to this day. I realised that someone whom I loved and learnt so much from is no longer among us.

This is the biggest loss. I always remember him, not a day is passed without thinking about him, his ideals, hopes, and dreams. I long to see him all the time. He had an immense influence on me, my thinking, and upbringing.

The level of oppression and state terror were so visible in our country. If you didn’t have a hope and vision for future, you could not survive. This is why we cannot be passive witnesses of wars, dictatorships, and injustice; we need to act and resist.

Feminism is my saviour. It connected me back with myself as a woman. I can relate to the world as me and as a woman. That’s why keeping women’s rights on top of every agenda is my priority. Feminism makes you strong. There is no doubt about it.

4. Jacobsen: Many of the dictators and religious fundamentalist leaders causing problems are men. It seems like a simple observation, almost a truism of history. Why?

Mahmoud: The problem: if we trace all these movements, politics, religions, and ideology, we realise they were initially only male domains. Women only made their way into them by long struggles for recognition.

This is why these movements are patriarchal, and religions, in essence, are man-made, masculine, and misogynist. This is why they are male dominated and, unfortunately, even if women join such fundamental groups they are treated as inferior or are used for (Jihad al Nikah) i.e. Jihad Marriage.

Let’s not forget dictators and systems of power are all patriarchal in nature.

5. Jacobsen: What strands of religious belief inspire you? By which I mean, even though you hold no formal doctrine, scripture, religious patriarch or matriarch, or leaders in unquestionably high esteem, there must be some that seem ordinary, lovely, and integrated into advanced notions of ethics, such as those found in The Golden Rule and its derivations.

Mahmoud: As you know, I am not religious. I don’t admire any religions. The imaginary gods and religions are all man made. Therefore, they are patriarchal. However, there are many wonderful people who practice religions. They are amazing people. One such person was my own mother.

From an early age, she was taught to pray and follow Islam, so she was a devout Muslim, as you know we are Kurdish, so she didn’t speak a word of Arabic. All her praying was in Arabic, though. She kept on praying and reciting Quranic verses and so on.

Although, I left Islam at an early age. I didn’t really think it was a religion that fits my ideals, but my mother who practiced Islam symbolised a person of high hopes, kindness, and a heart of gold.

She had so many good values. She cared so much about others. She would share anything she had with other people. If there is any religious matriarch, then I would choose my mother to be my Goddess.

Because she was beautiful in nature and always reminded us that we don’t stay in this world forever. It is better to do good, to be remembered for our good doing. Despite the fact that my mother followed religion, and practiced it, she had a set of values and norms that were so humane and universal.

6. Jacobsen: Who is a religious authority that seems in line with your own social, political, and ethical intuitions, convictions, and sentiments?

Mahmoud: There is none. I have organised my life around secular values, I do not aspire to any religions and their sentiments. I think I can do better without it. You don’t need a god or religious figure to tell you what to do; we can think, decide, and act on issues related to our lives, relations, and aspiration in life.

7. Jacobsen: In life, love remains profound. Its loss a revelation to most of their absolute fragility to the world, to others and themselves. Death and love at once become unifiers for everyone. I witnessed a death of a close one, recently.

Someone transitioning from life to death in an instant in front of me. I do not talk about these topics, personal things, in public often, but I wanted to touch on this with you. Someone I loved and cared for, deeply, died.

Love gives meaning, depth, and a seeming long-term narrative to a transitory existence. Any life tips for those undergoing the pain of loss with the privilege to mourn the loss rather than having to run and never properly mourn the death of loved ones in war zones?

Mahmoud: I am so sorry to hear that you have lost a loved one recently. One thing I learnt in life, is when someone close to us dies, it really is very difficult specially if they are killed, or if they die before you see them.

When my mother was ill, I was informed by my family that she was not well. I was arranging to go back to see her for one last time. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, she was dead already. It was really very difficult.

I was very sad and kept telling myself, “Why are we so scattered and uprooted? Why does this have to happen to me? I wish I was beside my mother’s bed when she died.”

People in our countries that are torn by war and conflict. They don’t live and die in peace. I believe that our loved ones even when they depart that they will remain with us. It is important to remember them and keep them in our hearts.

It is important to mourn and grief; it is a humane thing, but it is also important to carry on living and be positive about life. No matter what happens life is beautiful and while we are here we should try to enjoy it.

Death is a very difficult subject to talk about, as individuals we all relate to it differently, and to various extent we are all afraid of it. I think we want to live long, or perhaps we think we are immortal.

8. Jacobsen: You are in the middle of life. What gives you meaning now that did not before? What used to give you meaning that does not now?

Mahmoud: Of course, there are so many things that I did when I was young I thought they were great, but now when I think about it. I laugh. I think it was childish to do that. One thing that gives my life meaning is my struggle for freedom and justice.

This has not changed. Instead, I become more determined with age. Ok let me tell you this, when I was young, I would fall in love, dramatically. Yet on the same speed, I would fall out of it dramatically too.

Again, I laugh at those days now. With age again, you become more strong and stable. Perhaps, more rational in matters to do with life, I think we should take it easy and see everything as a product of its time.

Humans are not fixed categories. We change with time, with age, and with changing our environment. We should let ourselves be, and experience situations as they come. We have to be relaxed and content with ourselves.

9. Jacobsen: What did the US-UK-Canada, and others, do right in their various wars in the Middle East within your lifetime?

Mahmoud: To be honest I have never seen anything good coming out from Western intervention in the Middle East; let’s not forget, every intervention they make under the name of human rights, getting rid of a dictator, or bringing democracy for the common people are simply different excuses to keep military presence in this region of the world.

Their presence has nothing to do with people’s lives, rights, freedoms, or democracy, but it has everything to do with their political and economic interests in addition to asserting their supremacy or hegemony.

All they brought was different weapons. It was all used and tried on ordinary civilians. Casualties of these wars are endless. They damaged these countries forever in every aspect.


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  8. Mahmoud, H. (2006, June 12). A symptom of Iraq’s tragedy. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/jun/12/theendofzarqawitheusmade.
  9. Mahmoud, H. (2004, March 8). An empty sort of freedom. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/mar/08/iraq.gender.
  10. Mahmoud, H. (2005, August 14). Houzan Mahmoud: Iraq must reject a constitution that enslaves women. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/houzan-mahmoud-iraq-must-reject-a-constitution-that-enslaves-women-5347236.html.
  11. Mahmoud, H. (2005, January 28). Houzan Mahmoud: Why I Am Not Taking Part in These Phoney Elections. Retrieved from https://www.vday.org/node/989.html.
  12. Mahmoud, H. (2007, May 2). Human chattel. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/may/02/humanchattel.
  13. Mahmoud, H. (2006, October 7). It’s not a matter of choice. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/07/wearingtheveilhasneverbee.
  14. Mahmoud, H. (2014, October 10). Kobane Experience Will Live On. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/kobane-isis_b_5958150.html.
  15. Mahmoud, H. (2014, October 7). Kurdish Female Fighters and Kobanê Style Revolution. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/kurdish-female-fighters-_b_5944382.html.
  16. Mahmoud, H. (2016, November 1). Mosul And The Plight Of Women. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/houzan-mahmoud/mosul-isis-women_b_12740882.html.
  17. Mahmoud, H. (2006, October 17). The price of freedom. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/17/655000isnotjustanumber.
  18. Mahmoud, H. (2007, April 13). We say no to a medieval Kurdistan. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/apr/13/thefightforsecularisminku1.
  19. Mahmoud, H. (2007, December 21). What honour in killing?. Retrieved from https://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2007/12/women-rights-iraqi-honour.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Culture Project.

[2] Individual Publication Date: December 22, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2018 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] MA, Gender Studies, SOAS-University of London.

[4] Photographs courtesy of Houzan Mahmoud.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three) [Online].December 2017; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, December 22). An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A, December. 2017. <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A (December 2017). www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 15.A (2017):December. 2017. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Houzan Mahmoud, M.A. (Part Three) [Internet]. (2017, December; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/mahmoud-three.

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