Photos: 20 years after the start of the war in Iraq, citizens document daily life

Updated 12:44 a.m. EDT, Sun, March 19, 2023

By Christina Zdanowicz, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Will Lanzoni and Brett Roegiers, CNN

A shopkeeper squeezes fresh orange juice. A man sits while his cat sunbathes on a motorbike. Two girls are playing with their new umbrellas.

These street scenes paint a picture of how life has changed in Iraq in the 20 years since the country was invaded by the United States in 2003.

A year after the start of the war in Iraq, Michael Itkoff, an American studying photography at the time, had an idea. He sent 20 disposable cameras to a photojournalist working in Iraq and requested that the cameras be distributed to citizens.

He wanted to capture what life was like through the eyes of Iraqis. The prompt was simple: show the American public what you want them to see.

“We were looking to counter some of the media portrayals of the conflict that were painting this idea of ​​an insurgency where every Iraqi could be the enemy,” said Itkoff, who posted the photos to Daylight, a visual storytelling platform. and book publisher he co-founded.

This year, he repeated the experience of the disposable camera. And this time, the images show a return to normal despite the presence of old injuries.

“While the scenes of everyday life signal that life has changed and is returning to a more peaceful existence in the photos of Baghdad, some of the images from Fallujah and Mosul paint a picture of visible scars and cities left in disrepair” , did he declare.

CNN spoke to several of the Iraqis who took the photos this year. Many of them expressed a desire to show their country in a new light.

“I want the world to have a different image of Iraq, rather than seeing scenes of destruction and murder,” said Tariq Raheem, 50. “I want to send a message to the world that the Iraqi people love peace and want to live in peace.” .”


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