Bridging the gap between America and IraqHAGER CITY — For much of the past decade, war pitted America against Iraq.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
HAGER CITY — For much of the past decade, war pitted America against Iraq.
Sami Rasouli felt the pain twice as much because he’s called both countries home at some point in his life.
But as bullets started flying and bombs began exploding, Rasouli made sure to focus his efforts on reconciliation rather than confrontation. It was a way for him to get his mind off of the destruction that was hitting way too close to home.
“I felt the war had begun within me. Sami the American torturing the Iraqi Sami,” Rasouli said.
So as soon as he heard of the beginning of the war, the then-Twin Cities resident decided a trip back to Iraq was necessary. Seeing what had become of the country drove him to become a passionate advocate for peace.
It’s that very passion that caused the organizers of Peacestock 2012 to invite Rasouli to speak and share his story with those who attended the annual event over the weekend.
“If you get a chance to meet a guy who has really taken on the role of being a peacemaker in his entire existence, it’s Sami Rasouli,” David Harris said while introducing Rasouli early Saturday afternoon.
Rasouli’s goal at the event was to inform Americans about the conditions over in Iraq and explain what he’s done in his attempts to build international friendships. His life represents a model of peace as he’s been welcomed into both nations and relates with each of them equally.
“Because I’m an American 100 percent and I’m an Iraqi 100 percent that makes me 200 percent human being,” Rasouli said with a smile.
Although Rasouli is originally from Iraq, he eventually built a life for himself in Minneapolis and remained there for more than 15 years. After seeing firsthand the friendliness of people in America, Rasouli said he tried to share his experiences with those back in Iraq.
“I wanted to explain that the United States is good but it was a challenge,” he said. “I sounded like I was lying.”
In 2009, however, Rasouli was able to persuade 13 Iraqis to visit Minnesota and see what he’d been trying to tell them all along.
“They were hosted by locals and they found the beauty of the souls of peace-loving Americans,” Rasouli said proudly.
Upon returning to their country, those travelers were able to convince others that America was more than it originally seemed to them.
In the same way, Rasouli has also taken groups of Americans over to Iraq — and they got the same hospitality. On one trip, there were no hotels to be found because they had been destroyed in that area. But that didn’t leave anyone without a place to stay.
“Locals offered up their home and said ‘Our home is the best hotel in town. Please come over,’” Rasouli remembered.
The well-known peacemaker has continually promoted peace by arranging about 100 trips over the years that have either sent Americans to Iraq or vice versa.
And all of the travelers, Rasouli said, have been able to see peaceful personalities they never expected to find in the others.