Guest blog: Red Zone Theatre

In this last few days, the world has shook shaken with anger at newly-elect President Trump’s most recent policy on Muslim immigration into America. Huge protests from the US to the UK, movie stars speaking out in defence of Muslim communities, Twitter and Facebook posts coloured by the frustration, fury and sadness this decision has caused… It seems the entire globe is united in its stand against Donald Trump.

For Iraqi director Kuhel Khalid, who was forced to flee his city of Baghdad in 2008, we are, however, forgetting to paint the bigger picture of blame in this unfortunate scenario. “America created war in our countries, not only against them, but also amongst ourselves. Iraq was never perfect, but I love my country; it was the war that forced me and so many others to flee. Why does American think it can destroy the way of life in one country and that it’s people will not try to find a safer place to live for themselves and their families, where they can all have a future? Why should we stay in a warzone?”

He also reminds us that Muslims are in fact the people most at risk in the face of Isis and terrorist attacks: “How many thousands of car bombs have exploded in Iraq since 2003? How many Muslim lives have been lost in Syria? Libya? Somalia? This is a direct consequence of America’s failed foreign policy. Why is America blaming our community for a situation that it created?”.

Kuhel goes as far as to say: “For me, there is no difference between Trump and Isis. They both impose their law through fear and bans, they are racists and they only know how to hate. They are the same.”

Red Zone Company was in the past already affected by American decisions. “I called my theatre company Red Zone in contrast to the Green Zone of Baghdad, where the Americans and Government officials lived. This was the only safe sector of Baghdad. However, because they saw the name as an act of defiance, I was refused the right to officially register my company.” Since leaving Iraq, Kuhel has managed to create several branches of Red Zone Theatre, including one in the USA. Now, he wonders what impact Trump’s decision will have on his US-based Iraqi company members. “Perhaps they will never be able to leave the country again, and I won’t be allowed to go to America to see them. Once again, America is interfering with how I am running my company.”

For an inside look into Kuhel’s memories of his life in Iraq and Syria, through their theatrical embodiment by a cast of refugees and new migrants,  we invite you to come watch September 11th, running 15-17 Feb at CPT and 20-21 Feb, The Cockpit. Some performances include a post-show Q&A, details online.