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My memories as I was growing up in Baghdad

Reader comment on item: Muhammad Ali v. George W. Bush

Submitted by Raid Mohammad (United States), Nov 30, 2005 at 07:59

I can still vividly remember staying up late, so is my entire neighborhood in Baghdad, to watch Clay boxing. To us, T.V. was a new phenomenon and so was Clay. I can also vividly remember our shock to hear that Clay had changed his name. He became a celebrity as Clay and Iraqis continued to know him as Clay through out my growing years.

Embracing Islam had no impact what so ever on me or my seven year old classmates. The world to us was colorless. We didn't know the difference between blacks and whites. We knew him as the American Clay. Then all the sudden everything came tumbling. As an impressionable kid of less than ten, two events played big role on shaping me and influencing me as I was growing up. The first one was the jailing of my hero Clay. My friends and I couldn't, and I still, can't fathom it.

As an Iraqi who was growing up during that era, I can comfortably say that jailing Clay left the most negative impression on me. Jailing Clay was more impacting than seeing my elementary school getting filled with Palestinian refugees who fled their homes during the six day war. Both of these events took place on the same year. I believe that Jailing Clay was the worst Public Diplomacy defeat the US dealt itself ever.

I have to confess that I was very saddened when I read Mr. Pipes' unfair judgment against Clay. However, I also have to confess that I admire Mr. Pipes' courage to post all these replies that are full of criticism of him. I wish that Muslims can be as brave and courageous as Clay was when he took his historic stand and as Mr. Pipes for his willingness to share with us the view points of even those who criticize him.

Raid Mohammad, Austin, TX

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