I grew up in Baghdad in a middle-class family. I was 12 during the first Gulf War in 1990. Until then, I never heard a mosque call for prayer. I almost never saw a woman covering her hair with a hijab. My mum wore make-up, skirts, blouses with shoulder pads, and bermuda shorts. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2009, I've realised that most Americans don't understand that Iraq used to be a Westernised, secular country with an excellent education system and great health care. Iraq was rich - not the richest, but rich.