Wafaa Bilal


On his book Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun (with Kari Lydersen)

Cover Interview of December 24, 2009


During and after my Domestic Tension project, the post traumatic stress disorder I had suffered intensely in my early years in the U.S. resurfaced with a vengeance. This is not surprising given the experience of literally being under the gun, confronting the loss of my brother and my father and experiencing the hate and rage—as well as support and care—of viewers and participants.  PTSD and its confusing and wide-ranging effects became one of the central themes of my project.

Already PTSD among American soldiers has become a high profile topic and concern, but I know we have only begun to see what will ultimately be a tidal wave of emotional trauma washing back over the U.S. as our troops return home from wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Given my own experience with PTSD, I am deeply afraid of the consequences for individuals, families and society as a whole.

My Domestic Tension project and my larger story provoke readers, I hope, to not only see the ground-level effects of war abroad, but to see Iraqis and regular Americans as victims and pawns in power plays beyond their individual control.  People everywhere need to better understand the impacts and results of such wars and foreign policies.  I can only hope that through dialogue and collective action, we can do something.

© 2009 Wafaa Bilal