NIQASH: There are an estimated 1.5 million African Iraqis in Iraq today but they are hardly ever seen in the country’s political, and even its social and cultural, life. A former champion boxer, Salem Shaaban, heads the Movement of Free Iraqis, or Ansar Al Huriyah, an organisation that advocates for Iraqis of African origin. Shaaban talked to NIQASH about the challenges his organisation faces as it tries to improve the profile of Iraqi Africans and combat discrimination against them. And he outlines a change of strategy that he hopes will see the Movement of Free Iraqis join up with some of the country’s larger political parties.
before all the other revolutions you’ve been taught about, learn about the xanj revolution.
The Zanj Rebellion or Negro Rebellion was a major uprising against the Abbasid Caliphate. It was centered near the city of Basra, located in present-day southern Iraq, and lasted over a period of fourteen years (AD 869–883) before finally being defeated. The insurrection is traditionally believed to have involved enslaved blacks (Zanj) that had originally been captured from the East African coast and transported to the Middle East. It grew to involve many slaves and free men from several regions of the Muslim empire and claimed tens of thousands of lives in lower Iraq. The precise composition of the rebels is debated among historians, both as regards their identity and as to the proportion of slaves and free among them – available historical sources being open to various interpretations.