Sunday, August 30, 2009

Talk to A Gay Iraqi:
Haider Hamza Abdulrazaq

A young, well-educated and very politically-connected Iraqi refugee, Haider Hamza Abdulrazaq, has a finely-honed ability to grab attention from American citizens and the media. He has shared some of his life experiences on the web and merit a look by the gay community.

Let's look bits of Haider's online life. Here's a basic intro to him from a film production web site:

Being the son of a diplomat, Haider was born in Germany and grew up in East Africa and Europe. When he turned twelve, he moved back with his family to their hometown, Baghdad. Haider finished high school in Iraq and graduated from Baghdad University in 2006. One year later, he won a Fulbright scholarship and moved to the United States to obtain a master's degree in global security and conflict resolution.

When he was a teenager, Haider worked with the Iraqi Ministry of Information, talking to visiting dignitaries and foreign reporters. A few days after the end of major combat operations in 2003, he decided to join the mainstream media covering the world's focus on news of his country. At the age of nineteen he worked as a TV producer and photo editor for some of the world largest news agencies and networks including Reuters, ABC News and others. [...]

New to America and wanting to understand what the American people felt about their country's involvement in Iraq, Haider decided to travel across the US to talk to people about the war. He drove through 35 states setting up a mobile booth with a sign that says “Talk to an Iraqi.”

Over at his YouTube channel, Haider shares excerpts from the Showtime cable documentary on him and his talking tour:

Click here to read about Haider's Fulbright scholarship, click here for his Facebook page, click here to see the many regular Google hits for him, click here for GoogleBlogSearch hits, and click here to read his ManJam profile, in which he claims he's started a small group to help LGBT Iraqis.

And on July 24 at the Human Rights Campaign Equality Center in Washington, at an event co-sponsored by Human Rights Watch and the LGBT Bay Association, under the pseudonym "Hussam," Haider made his now infamous presentation of photos allegedly showing a gay Iraqi after he was supposedly beheaded by US armed forces.

Leading up to then, Haider/Hussam actively sought wide publicity, and he received some from the Washington Blade, which sent a veteran reporter to the public talk at HRC on July 24.

The gay Iraqi refugee's claims of atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers prompted an investigation by the US Army Criminal Investigative Command, which found no proof to back up his claims. From the Washington Blade:

[A US Army spokesman] noted that the refugee, who went by the alias “Hussam” during the public presentation in which he made the allegations, said in the statement that “his words were taken out of context, he was misunderstood due to language barriers and he was misquoted.”

Sorry, but I refuse to believe the controversy unleashed by this very educated and intelligent gay Iraqi was due to a language barrier and find his excuses as bogus as his claims that American forces chopped off the head of a gay Iraqi.

Husam/Haider is one cool and slick political and academic operative, whose smartness has taken him from the Iraqi Ministry of Information, to a Fulbright scholarship, work with ABC News, extensive USA media attention, and lots of speaking engagements.

Look at this quote he gave two years ago to a South Carolina newspaper, headlined "Iraqi looks for conversation":

"Some of my best friends are in the (U.S.) military, and they encouraged me to come to America," Hamza said.

After his lies presented at HRC in July, I wonder what those best friends of his in the US forces think of him now.

For more than a month, Hussam/Haider, who usually welcomes lots of attention from the media and American citizens, has refused to sit down with Washington Blade reporters to clear up the incredible lies and mess he created, while also resisting efforts by me and other bloggers to make sense of his words and actions. It seems as though he craves press coverage, as long as he doesn't have to face critical and skeptical questions.

As Hussam/Haider continues living in the USA, he is still making presentations to various college and community forums. Until he both clears up the many unanswered questions raised by his July talk at the Human Rights Campaign, and issues a full apology to the US armed forced he smeared, I hope all groups interested in having him speak, or any reporters seeking him out for stories, question him about the lies he spread and his adamant refusal to account for his outrageous behavior.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Michael for exposing him to the world, a classic case of an opportunist

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable, how did he get into the states in the first place? There should be investigation about this man; we can't let this happen on American soil.

Selva said...

Exposing what, exactly? This guy seems to have witnessed things in his home country, and you seem hellbent on ruining his life. I seriously don't get your motivation here.

Rania T. said...

Michael, i was present at this man's presentation and have known him for a long time. He has done extraordinary work to help his people and this country too...he never claimed what you said, he rather was pointing out the violence tearing his country. By your actions you are hurting the community, this man's journey and his friends. It is a shame indeed that while you were not present and dont have any recording of what he showed or said, yet you chose to put him in so much harm. Very unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

This man has done a lot of credible and respectful work and i do not believe that he did what you have claimed. Please include his quotes if you were present, and if you werent then tell us where you got this from...only the Blade's? He clearly said they misreported his work.

Anonymous said...

I was at the July 24 event and heard this young man speak. He never claimed that his photographs showed "a gay Iraqi after he was supposedly beheaded by US armed forces." He did claim that US troops routinely used anti-gay language when rounding up insurgents, and he said that he witnessed a killing of suspected insurgents where anti-gay language was used. You should be more careful to get your facts straight before posting your opinions for the world to see.

Further, by posting this young man's real name and his background story and by making the assumption that he is gay (even though he has never said that he i) you have exposed his family in Iraq to great danger. Your misrepresentations have the potential to cause real harm to someone's career and to the lives of innocent people, and you should be ashamed.

Unknown said...

Um, I was at the July 24th HRC event you reference, and I can tell you firsthand that Hussam never said that "American forces chopped off the head of a gay Iraqi."

I was there, and Hussam *never* made such a claim. He did say that U.S. troops routinely used anti-gay language as they rounded up insurgents, and at one point witnessed a killing of suspected insurgents in which anti-gay language was used.

In addition to re-printing the Blade's misrepresentation, you are also making a leap that Hussam claimed to be gay himself.

Your whole, destructive attack appears to be based on inaccuracies reported by the Blade and assumptions made by you, not on what actually happened at the event.

Unknown said...

hi all,

thanks for the comments. if the friends of haider/hussam have any influence over him, i would suggest they convince him to talk to the blade reporters, and others, who are very interested in clearing up the mess he created.

for a number of weeks, this gay iraqi, and now his pals in their comments here, has claimed the blade misquoted and misrepresented what happened on july 24.

the burden is on haider/hussam to work to clear up this mess he created.

if he made no mistakes or unsubstantiated claims about the US armed forces on july 24, maybe he can make the presentation again and let more people see exactly what he showed at the HRC event.


Unknown said...

You're making another untoward assumption: that, by virtue of stating what actually happened at the event (vs the inaccurate reports afterward), I must be a friend of the guy. I'm not. I'm just someone who was there and heard firsthand what was said.

Arturo said...

The Washington Blade and now you, are so quick to defend a known homophopic institution like the US army. And why? Because it's not possible that the armed forces could commit atrocities in Iraq and be able to get away with them? Because a full-scale investigation by the US army will turn up the truth and issue justice, like it did in Haditha?

It is a shame that the Blade, which is supposed to be the voice of the gay community in Washington, DC has such a naive, uninformed, reflexive attitude in defending the army and smearing this man. You are also now part of it. Congratulations, Michael.

Selva said...

Michael--I don't know the guy, and I wasn't at the event. I am just a reader of your blog and it is clear that you crossed a major ethical line on this one.

Unknown said...

i see a pattern here in the messages, and that is, blame the blade. sorry, the issue at hand is not the blade and it's reputable journalism. the issue is the lies told my haider/hussam and is refusal to be interviewed by the blade or anyone skeptical of his claims.

to the pals of this guy, and anyone defending him, please tell me why he can't talk to the press and bloggers about his claims and presentation on july 24?

if there are no lies in what he presented on july 24, then haider/hussam should have no problem making the slide show again to more gay audiences.

Diane J Standiford said...

Wow, I hadn't heard about this. Will be interesting to see how it all pans out. Hard to dispute an eye(ear) witness, but it wasn't me and I don't know you any better than the blogger or the Blade comes out in time.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Michael,

Why blaming the blade? They are a reputable journalism.

The real issue here is the lies told by haider/hussam and his refusal to be interviewed by anyone sceptical of his claims.

Please stop defending him; please tell me why he can't talk to the press and bloggers about his claims and presentation?

And if there are no lies in what he presented on July 24, then he should have no problem making the slide show again to more gay audiences.

His bubble burst and he has been exposed, i have seen many groups on facebook exchanging this story and everyone believe he is a classic case of an attention and seeker specially his tour of talk to an Iraq?

Why talking to you Haider? if Americans wish to talk to Iraqi’s , then they must speak to an Iraqi inside Iraq.
Haider do not present Iraqi gay community , no one in the gay community knows or heard about him.

Mona - Iraqi Lesbian

queer arab said...

An apology? Seriously? I'd love to see you put this much effort into getting the US armed forces to apologize for the hundreds of thousands of iraqis the've murdered. What an utterly absurd demand of an Iraqi, no matter what he said. If this is the American "left", then the rest of the world is in serious trouble.

Anonymous said...

To queer arab.


we are talking about a LIAR here and fraud man.


What did Arab countries did to us Iraqi people, Jordan refuse to give us visa , Lebanon, Kuwait , U.A.E , and all other countries do not want us , Only Syria is welcoming Iraqi's .

Honestly American is much more better to us that arab governments.

Anonymous said...


You might want to get your facts correct about Haider before you publish them.

Rebecca said...

I know this guy personally and I know he's the biggest fraud and liar I have ever met. Telling me and my family he is a professor at Columbia and he works with ABC, met Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep.. he is a notorious liar and he enjoys destroying peoples lives by telling lies! Deport this guy!!! He's dangerous, I swear!

Anonymous said...

i know the guy and I am pretty sure that he is a gay and above all an opportunist who seeks attention and making money out o the suffering of the Iraqis. He did work for sadam husein at first but then collaborated with the US army and ended up eventually promoting himself as an LGBT activist. shame on him said...

I actually attended his presentation yesterday. It was odd because for Hamza to speak about such a controversial subject of war, he was cracking jokes and being humorous. It wasn't as powerful of a speech that I would have expected. As I guess this is quite normal and a good coping mechanism, but yet was quite unprofessional in my eyes. Great speaker, nonetheless was barely capable of answering the audiences questions and kept saying "I hope that answers your question". He mentioned sexuality a few times that was quite odd and out of place. I mean what does sexuality have to do with war? I left the presentation not knowing what to leave with. I always pay close attention to the smallest details. Hamza did actually present a photo with naked Iraqis being shot at by US military, but where are pictures of US soldiers being blown up or shot at by Iraqis? This was a very biased presentation. I remember a student, asked “what do you want us to take out the door with us from this presentation?” I thought this was an ignorant, yet still a great question. He said that to just remember to leave all judgments out the door-religion, beliefs, disregard people's race, religion, or sexuality. He mentioned sexuality a few other times along with religion. I had the assumption that maybe he was possibly gay. So I did some research on him as I knew nothing about him, and came across a few websites claiming he is gay and a gay activist for gay Iraqis. But who are we to believe. Any journalism can be fraud or false. I do agree with Blade's comment. My brother is gay and I love the gay community, but I think if he's going to be a journalist he should leave sexuality out of a Veteran's Day presentation on war.

Anonymous said...

He just changed his name to Haider Newmani. He is Iraqi, that much is likely true, but everything else is questionable. When I first met him in 2011 or so he claimed that his wife and his child were killed by the Americans and he was shot in the back, which is how he got his green card. The story has changed since in many different ways, but one thing is certain, he is nothing but a con.