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Making New York home after fleeing Iraq

When Alaa Majeed fled Iraq, she could not even tell her two children that she was leaving.

When Alaa Majeed fled Iraq, she could not even tell her two children that she was leaving.

She arrived at JFK airport in 2007, forced out of her home country amid death threats for helping Americans.

Majeed, 36, is one of thousands of Iraqis threatened for associating with Americans — and one of the few now in safety.

The Manhattan-based Urban Justice Center resettles refugees all over the U.S. Their Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project has helped 400 Iraqis since 2008, with the help of Columbia University and New York University law students.

Majeed worked as a translator and journalist; but, in the midst of sectarian violence, her fellow Iraqis considered anyone helping America a spy.

She was nearly kidnapped, and a close friend was kidnapped and killed.

“Everybody was asking me to quit,” Majeed told Metro. “My mother was crying every morning.”

Majeed fled to Jordan in 2005, kissing her children, 6 and 4, goodbye while they slept. They eventually came to the U.S., as well.

She now lives in Brooklyn, where she is trying to get used to a city of car honks and stuffed sidewalks. Adjustment to her new life has not been easy, she said.

“I’m just here in shock,” she said. “In a crowd, when I hear a shot it just takes me to exactly where I was and I think there is a militia.”

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.

 
 
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