Feature

Nazaar Joodi’s unhappy asylum

In 2004, the White House publicly touted Nazaar Joodi as “a living martyr” of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny. Today he is unemployed and virtually forgotten.

America has broken Nazaar Joodi’s heart, says Brigid Schulte in The Washington Post. In 2004, eager to restore flagging support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the White House publicly touted Joodi as “a living martyr” of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny: Saddam’s agents had chopped off the 45-year-old Baghdad resident’s right hand and branded his forehead with an “X” for illegally trading U.S. dollars. Joodi was admitted to the U.S. as a political refugee, and for a short time, he enjoyed hobnobbing with politicians, appearing in documentaries, and participating in panel discussions. But now he’s unemployed and virtually forgotten. “I was a friend of America,” Joodi says, surrounded by framed photos of himself with George W. Bush, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz. “Now I’m the trash of America.” He has not been able to find a steady job, lives on $1,500 a month in food stamps and welfare benefits, and he and his family face eviction from their home in Fairfax, Va. Sometimes, while sleeping, he yells and cries. “I thought life would be different,” he says. “But every day since we came, every day has been difficult.” Now he’s faced with moving with his family to a homeless shelter or returning to Iraq. The latter option has one distinct advantage. “If we go back to Iraq,” he says, “at least we’ll have our dignity.”

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