A carnival celebrating peace has emerged in the city of Baghdad. This carnival is a new development, which began in 2011 with the help of volunteers and organizers. Noof Assi said, “after searching the words, Iraqi Laughing, and the search engine coming back with zero results she knew the city once known as “the city of peace” was no more.” The young 25-year-old coordinator Noof Assi wanted to change the way outsiders saw Baghdad. Most outsiders strictly relate Baghdad to a place of violence, death, and explosions. Noof Assi goal is to change that perception and to make Baghdad into a place of hope.
The Creation of the Carnival
It all began with a couple neighbors coming together to light candles on World Peace Day! As time went on Noof Assi began talking with friends and neighbors about setting up a stage for bands to play music. That’s where the idea emerged for the carnival in 2011. The carnival is free and everyone. Volunteers are very important to the event, but because of its popularity the volunteer participation has tripled! Each year the organizers come together to pick a motto in support of a particular cause, which all carnival profits will go to. This year the motto was “with the rights of the internally displaced people, we can reach peace”. Therefore this coming year all the proceeds will go to the Iraqis, which have been displaced and are lacking the basic means of living.
Opposition to the Carnival
Although the carnival is growing the problems facing the future stability of its existence is worrisome. As it grows it grows in opposition by unsupportive parties. Also many original supporters have had to flee the country because of the situations happening within Iraq. Many Iraqi’s citizens have asked, “How can you dance and sing when the situation in Iraq is deteriorating with different militias and sectarianism on the rise?” Nonetheless the organizers believe the carnival is supposed to support the idea that art and talent can raise money to help the people in need and hopefully put smiles on the faces of the people with recent hardship.
Striving for Peace
Baghdad may have been known as “The City of Peace”, at one point in time, but now its is the city striving for peace. With nearly 7 million citizens living the capital of Iraq many are now growing faith and seeing the importance for peace largely because of this yearly carnival. Baghdad is the second largest city in the Arab world and could benefit immensely if more people were willing to understand how everyone can benefit from having harmony in their lives. This carnival is a small example of what harmony can look like for the Baghdad community.
The carnival takes 3 months of planning and many days of set up to be put together.
Rusul Kamel, a long-time volunteer says, “Volunteering made me feel that I have a sense of humanity, I can give back to my country, and not only ask to receive something from it. All this made me more positive in my personal life and I managed to discard the negativity and dangers around me.”
As long as people are willing to sacrifice their time and continue to put in effort there will always be a strive for peace no matter what form it comes in.