Baghdad College

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Not to be confused with Baghdad College of Pharmacy.

Baghdad College (Arabic: كلية بغداد‎) is an elite high school for boys aged 11 to 18 in Baghdad, Iraq. It was initially a Catholic school operated by and founded by Jesuits. The 1960s Iraqi government nationalization and expulsion of Jesuit teachers changed the character of the school.

History[edit]

In 1932,[1] it was founded by Bishop William A. Rice, S.J.[citation needed] Pope Pius XI requested the establishment of a Catholic school in Baghdad to serve the Muslim population there, and the church sent four Jesuits to establish the school.[2] One of them was father John Mifsud, who was of Maltese origins. The school originally had four Jesuit teachers and 107 students. The school motto was "An Iraqi School for Iraqi Boys".[1]

The school was initially located in ten buildings,[1] located at 11/45 Murabba'ah Street in Baghdad, on the east bank of the Tigris River,[citation needed] on 4 acres (1.6 ha) of land in the northern part of the city.[2] Father Leo Guay designed the campus buildings, using Iraqi architecture as an influence.[1] Courses were conducted in English. National Public Radio stated that at the time it was Baghdad's "premier high school."[3] Soon after its founding the teaching staff included 33 Jesuits and 31 Iraqi lay teachers.[1] Some of the Jesuits were fluent in the Arabic language,[4] and others had established Arabic classes to try to teach themselves the language.[5] The student body became over 1,100;[1] Most of the students were children of the Iraqi elite.[6] Historically about 20% of the students received scholarships.[1] About half of the students were Muslims and half were Christians;[4] Jews were also students. Baghdad College's pupils included Iraqis, Armenians, Egyptians, Iranians, Palestinians, and Syrians.[7]

The school did not attempt to convert Muslims into Christianity,[2] and students were not required to attend chapel services.[5] Richard Cushing, a cardinal from Boston, privately criticized the school for not getting converts.[2] Laith Kubba, an Iraqi activist and former student, stated that the school helped him become a better Muslim.[8]

Anthony Shadid stated in an essay that the school symbolized a secular-at-the-time Iraq, the manner in which the two countries perceived each other, and the notion that the U.S. and Iraq "could allow themselves an almost idealistic version of each other. I think that's impossible today, and I say that with a certain sense of sadness."[3]

In the 1960s sentiment against the school grew.[9] The Iraqi government took control of the school in the 1960s; at that time the government was taking over all schools in Iraq.[3] On August 24, 1969, the Iraqi government expelled all 33 Jesuit teachers.[9] Shadid wrote that the school's culture disintegrated after the expulsion of the Jesuits.[10]

During the Baathist Iraq era, students were required to take courses on Saddam Hussein. The classes about Saddam ended after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As of 2005 the school still accepted the top students in Baghdad. Dexter Filkins of The New York Times stated "Today, Baghdad College is becoming more its old self."[6] In 2012 Anthony Shadid stated that the school had experienced "disorderly decline".[11]

The graves of five Americans are located in the school's cemetery. One of them is that of a teacher who was employed by Baghdad College for 35 years.[12]

Notable alumni[edit]

Pre-nationalisation

Post-nationalisation

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Shadid, Anthony. "The American Age, Iraq" (Archive). Granta. October 10, 2012. See profile. p. 228 (PDF 6/27).
  2. ^ a b c d MacDonnell, Joseph. "The Jesuits of Baghdad: 1932-69" (Archive). America. May 26, 2003. Retrieved on April 29, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Baghdad College And America's Shifting Role In Iraq" (Archive). National Public Radio. September 7, 2011. Retrieved on April 29, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Shadid, Anthony. "The American Age, Iraq" (Archive). Granta. October 10, 2012. See profile. p. 229 (PDF 7/27).
  5. ^ a b c Shadid, Anthony. "The American Age, Iraq" (Archive). Granta. October 10, 2012. See profile. p. 230 (PDF 8/27).
  6. ^ a b c d e Filkns, Dexter, "Boys of Baghdad College Vie for Prime Minister" (Archive). New York Times, December 12, 2005. Retrieved on April 29, 2015.
  7. ^ Shadid, Anthony. "The American Age, Iraq" (Archive). Granta. October 10, 2012. See profile. p. 234 (PDF 12/27).
  8. ^ Shadid, Anthony. "The American Age, Iraq" (Archive). Granta. October 10, 2012. See profile. p. 226 (PDF 4/27).
  9. ^ a b Shadid, Anthony. "The American Age, Iraq" (Archive). Granta. October 10, 2012. See profile. p. 238 (PDF 16/27).
  10. ^ Shadid, Anthony. "The American Age, Iraq" (Archive). Granta. October 10, 2012. See profile. p. 238-239 (PDF 16-17/27).
  11. ^ Shadid, Anthony. "The American Age, Iraq" (Archive). Granta. October 10, 2012. See profile. p. 225 (PDF 3/27).
  12. ^ Shadid, Anthony. "The American Age, Iraq" (Archive). Granta. October 10, 2012. See profile. p. 227 (PDF 5/27).


Sources[edit]

External links[edit]