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Baghdad Girl, Reaching Out Via the Web

Baghdad Girl, a blog run by a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, puts her love of cats on display. But occasional references to the violence around her prompt much concern from her faithful readers... and offer a bittersweet window into Iraqi life.

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Raghda Zaid is 14, lives in Baghdad, likes the Backstreet Boys and Shania Twain. Her favorite movies are Home Alone and Garfield. She loves cats. I've become electronically acquainted with Raghda because my daughter likes to climb onto my lap when I'm writing early in the morning and asks to see pictures of cats.

We were looking on the web one day when we found Raghda's site, Baghdad Girl. Raghda posts pictures of cats napping on pillows and in baskets. Cats curled up on stairs and in sinks. Iraq Forever, her website proclaims. Cats Forever and Baghdad Girl Forever. Raghda rarely writes about daily life in Baghdad. In posting the pictures of cats that she receives and shares from around the world, she may be seeking diversion from it. But last August 26th, she wrote, The situation here does not help to write at all. There are always explosions in bomb cars. Four days ago a big explosion happened near my house. This bomb car killed two children, broke windows and brought fear. Thanks to God we are all fine but who knows in the next time.

There were scores of a responses. A woman wrote Raghda, I check your site all the time because I love your cat pictures and because I care about you and your family. In posting your cat photos and your news, you are bringing beauty and honesty to the world. Thank you.

A US soldier named Skip tells her, I get scared too. Stay strong. Another girl, Mostera(ph) from Malasia, writes Raghda to say, Know what? Today my cat Tompoc(ph) died. I am really sad. I cried about five hours. I bury it in the garden. I hope I will get another cat just like Tompoc. Tompoc, I love you. I hope Tompoc hears me. Allah, love Tompoc. Mostera seemed to know that whatever Raghda own perils, perhaps because of them, she would understand the sadness of another girl who's lost something precious.

Raghda has kept posting her cat pictures and last December 15th she added, Today the weather was very nice. No cars and no bombs. It was a great day for a walk, so my parents went to vote and they said the streets were full of people. It was a good day in Iraq and that was the thing we haven't seen for a long time.

That message was two months ago. This week as more bombs have gone off in the streets and towns around Raghda, we decided to send her a note. But what words of comfort can you send from a comfortable place in the world to a young girl who has already seen too much to be fooled into thinking that mere warm words can keep her truly safe. We told Raghda that the pictures she posts delight us. We said long live Iraq. Long live cats. Long live Baghdad Girl.

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Simon SaysSimon Says NPR's Scott Simon Shares His Take On Events Large And Small