Packed house for rebel doc­tor

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

The book was launched at the War­ragul Li­brary last week. In in­tro­duc­ing Is­sam, fel­low car­di­ol­o­gist Brett Forge said he had worked hard to en­cour­age Is­sam to work at West Gipp­s­land Hospi­tal.

He said the com­mu­nity was in­cred­i­bly lucky to have him work­ing in West Gipp­s­land.

Dr Forge said Is­sam was an amaz­ing guy and a won­der­ful doc­tor. “It is a great story for all of us and we can’t help but learn from it,” he said.

Dr Muteir said he had writ­ten the book for his young chil­dren so that when they were older they would un­der­stand why their fa­ther was a refugee from Iraq.

“Be­ing a refugee can be con­tro­ver­sial I wanted them to un­der­stand why I was here and how I got to be here.

“I wanted them to un­der­stand my story,” he said.

Dr Muteir said lit­tle was known about the war in Iraq and the ef­fect it had had on ev­ery­day peo­ple.

He rose from poverty to train as a doc­tor de­spite los­ing three family mem­bers – one ex­e­cuted at the hands of Sad­dam Hus­sein’s govern­ment.

Dr Muteir em­pha­sised the book was a mem­oir and con­tained no po­lit­i­cal agenda.

“I want the reader to come to their own con­clu­sions, I don’t want peo­ple to mis­un­der­stand the is­sue of refugees or take it out of con­text.

“It can be very su­per­fi­cial we are not all ter­ror­ists.

“When I was think­ing about th­ese is­sues in re­la­tion to my chil­dren I thought how can I equip them with that knowl­edge.

“It seemed quite sim­ple write a book and give it to them,” he said.

Dr Muteir com­mit­ted to study­ing medicine after watch­ing his sis­ter die from asthma be­cause they could not get med­i­cal as­sis­tance.

In a mat­ter of fact way Dr Muteir de­scribed his work­ing life in Bagh­dad where he ran a hospi­tal for two months. He pro­tected the 400-bed hospi­tal, changed it from fee pay­ing to free for the pub­lic and was la­belled “Leader of Rebel Doc­tors” in US me­dia. “It was not easy, it put my life in dan­ger. But I man­aged to keep it run­ning and free to the pub­lic.”

He said he sur­vived by not tak­ing sides and re­main­ing calm in all sit­u­a­tions.

Fear­ing for his life, Dr Muteir won a six­month Aus­tralian Govern­ment schol­ar­ship and ar­rived in Aus­tralia in 2007. It was his mother who told him not to re­turn be­cause of the sit­u­a­tion in Bagh­dad.

“I had al­ways lis­tened to my mother and in this in­stance even though it was very dif­fi­cult I lis­tened to her again.”

His mother, broth­ers and a sis­ter live in Iraq. Pro­ceeds from the sale of his book were do­nated to the hospi­tal.

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