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: Have your ideas about religion changed since covering Iraq?
Fassihi: When you cover the Middle East, you realize how much religion is used and sometimes even abused in order to gain political scores or in order to settle resentful events that have happened. I think that’s the thing that is most disturbing, is that people, you know, are willing to use religion in order to, you know, get what they want even if it has nothing to do with religion, such as the insurgency in Iraq which has nothing to do with religion but people really, you know, feel free to use Islam or feel free to use the religion to even recruit suicide bombers. I mean, that’s one of the things that has happened, just as, you know, brainwashing people or recruiting young people because, you know, you promise something greater in afterlife for these things.