Basim al-Shara | Institute for War and Peace Reporting
I was born in Baghdad on July 7, 1980 and was raised in al-Hurria, in north-west Baghdad, where I spent the most beautiful days of my childhood in a simple Iraqi family. My father is a retired English teacher from Amara and my mother is a housewife from Najaf.
I have always been interested in news and books in different fields, especially politics. I inherited this from my father, who focused all his concerns after his retirement on attending literary meetings in Baghdad, as well as reading books about different Iraqi subjects.
I was a regular reader of the Iraqi and Arabic magazines and newspapers in the 90s, both during the Saddam regime and after. I used to spend all my money on buying newspapers, and some people used to call me “Iraqi News Agency” because of my constant talking about Iraqi news from different Arabic stations, as well as from government TV.
Although I studied Management and Economy at Baghdad University in 2001, I never lost my passion for following the latest Iraqi and international political news, and secretly getting books about Iraqi political affairs.
Following the toppling of Saddam’s regime on April 9, 2003, my brother Hazim took two courses with IWPR Iraq in Baghdad.
I watched him writing some of his articles, and I saw the materials that were given to him about the international media. All this aroused my curiosity and desire to enter that world.
So in 2004 I applied for a place on an IWPR training course in Sulaimaniyah, which was the first held outside Baghdad. I went on to participate in many IWPR training courses, and they had a huge influence on my journalism.
My early journalistic work was as an IWPR reporter in Karbala province, covering the parliamentary election in January 2005. Later I worked with many media organisations, including Dijla and Nawa radio stations, but I continued to report for IWPR in the very hard times we had in Baghdad between 2006 and 2007.
There are two stories among those I wrote for IWPR, during the sectarian violence in Iraq, which I consider very important to my journalism. The first was about the murder of gays in the latter half of 2006, Baghdad Gays Fear for Their Lives. And the second one was about meetings between friends from different sects in Zawra Park, Baghdad Park Bridges Sectarian Divide.
I currently work as an assistant trainer for IWPR Iraq’s chief trainer, Nabil Khoury, who teaches reporting courses. My main job is to collect reports from trainees and provide feedback to develop their reporting skills. My current job means a lot to me. It gave me the opportunity to work with novice journalists, which is a new experience for me.
Being a journalist means I’m a person capable of changing things in my country in a positive way, towards building a democratic Iraq similar to the civilized countries outside the Middle East.