Farnaz Fassihi is the deputy bureau chief of Middle East and Africa for The Wall Street Journal and the author of Waiting for An Ordinary Day, a memoir of her four years covering the Iraq war and witnessing the unraveling of life for Iraqi citizens. In May 2006, Fassihi was awarded the prestigious Henry Pringle Lecture Award for her Iraq coverage by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her coverage of the EgyptAir flight 990 crash won the New England News Executive Award as well as a finalist nomination for the Livingston Award.
Question: How interested is the average Iraqi in democracy?
Fassihi: You know, I think that the Iraqis, the average Iraqis, their foremost concern is having security. I think that’s what they want. I think democracy and a free parliament and free elections are kind of, you know, not very tangible if you don’t have, you don’t know if you’re going to be alive or if you don’t have water and you don’t have work and you don’t have money in. So, I think, you know… And also their vision of democracy, every time there was an election, the results were extremely divided along sectarian lines, so you see that most people are loyal to their sects and to the political parties that represent their ethnicity or their sect. So, I think, in that sense, there’s a great deal of division and a sense of self interest among the different parties and among different Iraqi people.