The Islamic Post Blog


Iraq Final Phase: Operation Disneyland by Khalida
October 3, 2008, 12:10 pm
Filed under: Front Page News, International, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008, World
The project will take possession of the existing Al Zawra park and Baghdad Zoo, which was ransacked in April 2003.

The project will take possession of the existing Al Zawra park and Baghdad Zoo, which was ransacked in April 2003.

By Aminah Siddiq, Islamic Post Staff Writer

Return to Babylon?  This sketch by John March, Vice President of Ride and Show Engineering depicting a design for the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience. (John March)

Return to Babylon? This sketch by John March, Vice President of Ride and Show Engineering depicting a design for the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience. (John March)

Five hundred million dollars has already been invested into a project to turn an area which lies just outside the Green Zone, the grounds of the former Baghdad Zoo, into a Disney-style entertainment theme park called the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience (BZEE). The first part of (BZEE), a skateboard park, was scheduled to open recently.
Already, there are reports that the 200,000 skateboards, to be handed out free of charge, depict Satanic cartoon-drawings. For the majority Muslim and also Christian Iraqi population, such things are against their traditional values. Sketches of the entertainment complex designed for the former zoo glorify magic and sorcery. Nothing yet visible displays respect towards the culture and faith traditions of the people who will frequent the entertainment center.
Ride and Show Engineering (RSE) is the designer of the park, and was Disney’s original design and engineering arm for its California parks and others around the world.   Los Angeles based holding company, C3, is supported by the Pentagon, and has generous, yet unnamed, private equity investors who will be developing the BZEE.
Llewellyn Werner, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of C3, said that while, in his opinion, such Disney-type diversion will be good for the ed out country, and may even spark a new tourism wave, the park is being built for profit.
“I’m a businessman. I’m not here because I think you’re nice people. I think there’s money to be made,” explained CEO Werner in his pitch to financiers.
“I also have this wonderful sense that we’re doing the right thing –we’re going to employ thousands of Iraqis. But mostly everything here is for profit,” he clarified.
Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research counters that, for Baghdad , entertainment and profit are sidelines to the larger, looming effect of war that could be unleashed through the project. “Establishing an American cultural outpost in an occupied land serves to uphold the legitimacy of the invaders and their worldwide ‘cultural values,’” he wrote.
“Most of the country’s cultural and educational infrastructure including museums, schools, universities, parks, theaters, cinemas have been destroyed; and now the invaders are ‘helping to rebuild,’” Mr. Chossudovsky elaborated.
“The concept underlying Disney’s Imagineering (developed by RSE) is to ‘overcome the barriers between reality and dreams,’” he concluded.
Or nightmares, according to Iraqi author and journalist Dahr Jamail.
“The idea of bringing U.S.-style escapism entertainment to the hell of Baghdad is absurd,” Mr. Jamail told Alternet’s Scott Thill.
“The Bush junta has already attempted to impose a neo-liberal economic Disneyland upon the Iraqi people,” Dahr Jamail asserts, “but they have flatly rejected the neurosis of its brand-conscious, failed capitalism.”
“The two geographies meet nowhere in my imagination, nor in reality,” said Dahr Jamail.

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