Dijla Al-Rekabi is an Iraqi-Canadian political activist in Calgary, Alberta. She fled Iraq with her family during the First Gulf War, eventually settling in Calgary. She became a prominent member of the local anti-war movement, protesting against the Iraq War launched in 2003, and is involved other areas of the peace movement.
Al-Rekabi was born in Iraq in 1976. She was raised mainly in the city of Najaf, with her ten siblings. In 1991, when she was 13 years old, a US-led coalition invaded Iraq to expel it from Kuwait. The local hospital was bombed. Shortly after her brother had a fever, but due to damage from the bombing, could not be treated properly. He died as a result.
To escape, the family fled in a 14-day trek, settling in a refugee camp in neighboring Saudi Arabia. Although the war ended shortly after, she was unable to return home, as Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, was violently suppressing uprisings by Shiite Muslims against his regime.
The camp in Saudi Arabia, near Rafha, ten kilometres from the Iraqi border, had around 33,000 people. It was fenced off, people were weren’t allowed out without special permission, and there was substantial political and religious suppression. She spent six years in the camp. Ultimately, they were accepted as refugees to Canada.
Life in Canada
The family arrived in Canada in July 1996. They ultimately settled in Calgary. Al-Rekabi attended the University of Calgary, studying sociology. Al-Rekabi was a hired as a diversity and learning support advisor with the Calgary Board of Education.
She became a prominent local anti-war protester in Calgary in response to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq by the US. Her experiences from the First Gulf War helped her empathize with the experiences of Iraqis in the 2003 conflict.
The first two photos were taken by me at an anti-racism protest in Calgary on August 25, 2007. She and other anti-racism protesters confronted members of the neo-nazi Aryan Guard, first in the Kensington community, and later in the Marlborough community. The last image was taken on March 17, 2009 at an anti-war rally held in Calgary, which protested a visit by George W. Bush to the city.
© 2021 Robert Thivierge