Sami Rasouli left his native Iraq at age 24 to teach in United Arab Emirates and later in Germany. He came to Minnesota and drove a cab until he had enough money to buy a cafe and market. He was active in community life, and in 2001, became a U.S. citizen.
After his mother died in 2003, he traveled to Iraq for the first time in 27 years. Stunned by the destruction from the U.S. invasion and occupation, he sold his business and moved back to help rebuild his country.
Rasouli first worked with human rights organization to deliver medical supplies to Iraqi refugees. He joined with the Iraq Human Rights Watch of Karbala and accompanied doctors to refugee camps. He then founded the Muslim Peacemakers Teams (MPT) in Najaf, Iraq, which brings Iraqis together in peace and to work for the good of their country.
Rasouli inspired the founding of the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP) in Minneapolis which has partnered with MPT in Iraq and led the initiative resulting in the establishment Through MPT and IARP, he has helped bring clean water to almost 40,000 Iraqi school children and facilitated the exchange of thousands of letters between Iraqi and American students through the Letters for Peace program. He has provided leadership and nonviolence training to Iraqi youth and organized a youth soccer team to promote cross-sectarian peace and friendship.
He has provided trainings in Najaf Province and surrounding provinces to raise awareness about the roots of nonviolence in Islamic teaching, and worked with the United Nations Office for Project Services to hold community discussions on Iraq’s new constitution prior to its passage in 2007.
Through Rasouli’s efforts, eight delegations of professionals, artists, and citizens have traveled from Najaf to Minneapolis and he has hosted many peace-building visits by Americans to Najaf. In addition, he has worked closely with women’s rights groups in Iraq to offer vocational training for women in rural and urban areas.
During visits to the U.S., Rasouli has spoken to tens of thousands of Americans in the Midwest about the reality on the ground in Iraq and the effects of the American occupation.