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Iraqi faces and surfaces

With these pictures I want you to get a sense of the simple fact that Iraq is not only Saddam Hussein, weapons and wars. Iraq is 24 million fellow human beings. It has been a civilisation for some 7,000 years. It has a distinct, rich culture; it has norms, and - above all - it has pride.

I have never visited a country where there is so much kindness and hospitality - a genuine welcoming of the stranger. During the four weeks I spent in Baghdad, Babylon and Basra, I never felt insecure or had the feeling that I could not speak with the locals. Neither did I sense that they were afraid to speak with me as a foreigner.

© 2003 Jan Oberg

The future belongs to the children, doesn't it?

Iraq has a young population; about half the people are under 16 years old. They are innocent, they have a right to live.

I did not go to Iraq to take pictures. I was there with my friend, Christian Hårleman of TFF, to interview people, to do fact-finding. So these pictures were taken in between meetings, spontaneously. During our first visit in May 2002, my digital camera developed a serious lens problem that created blurred spots and faulty light measurement. I decided to place some of them here anyhow after giving them a manual touch-up in Photoshop. After all, I felt that what they may convey carries greater weight than technical perfection.

The pictures from January 2003 have been taken with another digital camera. They too were touched-up by me in Photoshop. They have a rather large format, so please be patient as the pictures may take some time to load.

There are enough words and intellectual arguments on TFF's website. I have learned how important it is to go and see, feel, hear, touch and smell a place. Not all of you can go to Iraq but I invite you to travel a bit through the images of its faces and surfaces. Hopefully some of them can say more than I can by just using words.

The people you meet here have suffered unfairly, inside the inner cage of Saddam Hussein and the outer cage of our sanctions. Look at them and ask whether anything could justify the war and the present occupation of their society.


Jan Oberg




Faces One

Faces Two

People in the Shah Bender Café - One

People in the Shah Bender Café - Two

People in the Shah Bender Café - Three

Children and youth

Modern Baghdad

Old Baghdad & Bazaar

The boy and the fish

Al-Kadhemain Mosque I

Al-Kadhemain Mosque II

Reading and selling books

Boy's expressionless eyes

Old university, A.D. 1233

Saddam, Bush and Osama in Baghdad

People in power

The Amariyah shelter catastrophe

Watching TV

The interior of old Café Shah Bender

The walls of Café Shah Bender

Saddam, radio, TV and plugs in Shah Bender






Series to come




New mosque being built

The archbishop Gabriel Kassab

Basra faces - One

Basra faces - Two

Basra city pictures

Basra's citizens

Basra's harbour and Shatt Al-Arab

Basra soldiers pointing at Iran

South of Basra


The fact-finding mission to Iraq - and, thus, this photo series - was made possible
by a grant from the Inge Lehmanns Legat af 1986 in Denmark


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