Baghdad Debate Club, a translation of the Elite Academy participants’ efforts in spreading the debate culture across the world.
Once again, members from our community prove that hard work and passion are the primary drivers for achieving everything they dream of, despite the difficult circumstances and the obstacles they are faced with.
Despite lockdowns and constraints imposed in various parts of the world, and despite all the cancelations and postponement of activities, participants in the 3rd batch of the Elite Academy from Iraq had a different take to it.
Those who are passionate about debating in the city of Baghdad continued to work hard, until finally being able to see the results of their hard work on ground by forming a debate club under the name “Baghdad debates”, a platform that will serve the debate community in Iraq.
On this note we interviewed Mohammed Alshammari, an Elite Academy participant on his efforts to establish this club and making the debate culture blossom in Iraq.
Q1: When was the initiative established?
The idea was on my mind since 2018 after my return from the International Schools Championship in Qatar, but there were many obstacles represented in the absence of an institution that would foster this club, as well as coordination with the former debaters for the purpose of establishing the club. I continued to address institutions and organizations until I was able to cooperate with my former debater friends Hassan Ali and Raed Rabee to launch the Baghdad Debate Club initiative as the first debating club in Baghdad.
Q2: Where did the idea for this initiative come from?
In fact, any debater wishes to find a club or a center that supports them and help them develop their abilities. When I was a debater, I did not find any club or debating center in Baghdad or Iraq. All that was present were individual attempts by former debaters, schools, and universities, but there was no club or institution that embraced these efforts and became responsible for it. In fact, the idea was founded by the coach of Imad Al-Fayyad, who trained the Iraq team for schools for many years and who was aspiring to establish a debate center in Iraq.
Q3: What are the institutions that work for the initiative?
The club belongs to IQPEACE Center, an Iraqi youth organization that has several youth and cultural clubs in Baghdad, and we also have cooperation and partnerships with distinguished schools in Baghdad, as well as Baghdad University and Al-Mustansiriya University.
Q4: What are the goals of the initiative?
The goals of the initiative are:
1- Spreading the culture of difference and peaceful coexistence in society.
2- Reviving the Arabic language and its speaking skills in Iraqi society.
3- Developing speaking, elocution, and public speaking skills.
4-Preparing young debaters for international championships and spreading the culture of debate.
Q5: What are the activities that the initiative has worked on in the past, and is working on in the future?
We have provided several workshops and courses on the basics of the art of debate, as well as several field visits to Iraqi schools and universities. We continue to work despite the presence of the Corona Virus by providing workshops and discussion sessions monthly online.
Q6: What are the local and international tournaments that you participated in?
I participated as a debater in the Fourth International School Debate Championship in Doha in 2018, as well as in the Asian Universities Championship for Debates in Kuala Lumpur 2020. Also, I was supposed to participate as an arbitrator in the School Championship 2020 in Doha, which was canceled due to Corona, and then participated as an arbitrator in several online tournaments such as the International Electronic Championship organized by The Debate and Culture Initiative in Jordan. Moreover, I arbitrated in the Tunisian National Championship, as well as the Algerian National Championship.
Q7: What are the workshops and training provided by this initiative?
We have a regular workshop every month at the club, as well as workshops that we offer inside schools and universities.
Q8: How important is this initiative to the debate community in Iraq?
Certainly, the presence of the club is absolutely essential to revive the art of debate in Iraqi society, which was part of our history and our Iraqi cultural heritage, as well as to train students for international participation.
Q9: What are the obstacles facing the initiative?
The obstacles at the beginning were the lack of an institution that funded or adopted the project, whether governmental or private, but through work and persistence we overcame this problem. Another obstacle is that the debates have become a little far from our society in this era, so there is a great responsibility on us to revive, spread and teach the youth its importance.
Q10: What is the importance of this initiative?
It is characterized by supporting youth and achieving several cultural goals at the same time.
Q11: What is the target group of this initiative? And why?
In the first place, students of schools and universities represent the cornerstone of their dialogue culture. Secondly, it is also important for the rest of the Iraqi society, which consists of different classes, different nationalities, and diverse religions, so the existence of the art of debate is crucial to promote peaceful coexistence and a culture of difference.
Q12: What advice do you give to the debate community in Iraq?
To endeavor, and not get tired of spreading the art of debate, as it is a fine and necessary art if we want to live in a society that appreciates difference and coexists in peace and security.