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Sectarian Strife Tears Apart Baghdad's Neighborhoods

10, 01 05
Sunni-led attacks on Shiites deepen the chasm between the groups. As people flee, the fabric of the city has changed.

By Louise Roug,

BAGHDAD - The merchants were silent, their shops closed. A hush had fallen on the Jamiyat Shurta market. Earlier that morning, three bakers had been slain, shot silently as they prepared khubz, the popular pancake-like bread.

A few hours later, two gunmen crept up on a fishmonger at another market nearby, felling him with bullets before disappearing into the crowd.


Around the corner, assailants had gunned down a bicycle dealer and a university teacher in separate attacks earlier this week.

All the victims were Shiites living or working in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood.

On the streets of the capital, posters proclaim: "The constitution: Unity is from it, and hope is in it."

But, as Iraqis prepare to vote on a new constitution Oct. 15, hope and unity are in short supply, with gunmen redrawing the map of this age-old city in blood.

An apparent campaign of sectarian killings is deepening the chasm between the country's Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority.

A wave of bombings in the last two days has killed at least 111 people in predominantly Shiite areas. On Friday, a car bomb exploded near a vegetable market in Hillah, south of Baghdad, killing at least eight people and wounding 41, police said.

In Balad, where three coordinated bombings struck merchants and shoppers Thursday evening, doctors worked nonstop to save the wounded, who numbered in the hundreds; by Friday, the death toll from that attack had reached 103. The town was targeted because it was predominantly Shiite, many residents say.

But Sunni Arabs, too, are complaining of abuses, including torture and assassinations, alleging that rogue Iraqi security forces or impostors routinely abduct and execute Sunni men. In the last couple of months, bodies have turned up in the Tigris River, a garbage dump and, this week, near a rail yard.

On Friday, in the capital's Umm Qura Mosque, Sheik Ahmed Abdel Ghafour called on Sunnis to defend themselves against suspicious Iraqi troops. "It's better for the Iraqi to be killed in his house than tortured, killed and thrown in the streets," he said.

In Baghdad, as in the rest of Iraq, sectarian lines are hardening and residents are being forced out of their neighborhoods.

On Monday, insurgents dragged five Shiite teachers and their driver into a classroom in the village of Muelha, 30 miles south of Baghdad, and shot them to death.

Tuesday night, men in police uniforms came for seven Sunnis in the Hurriya neighborhood. Police discovered their bodies the next day, dumped near a railway line in Shula, a northwestern Baghdad district. The men had been blindfolded, handcuffed and shot execution-style.

In Dora, which stretches over 30 square miles on the southern rim of the capital, a systematic campaign of intimidation has changed the fabric of this once-diverse neighborhood, authorities say.

Jasim Hasan, a 63-year-old blacksmith, said three Shiite shopkeepers in his corner of Dora recently packed up and left. "We hear of two to three assassinations every week," said Hasan, who has noticed the constant rumble of trucks moving furniture out of the neighborhood.

The twin stacks of the oil refinery cast a shadow over the middle-class neighborhood, where a large community of Assyrian Christians came to work when the plant was built by the British in the 1940s. On these streets, family trees intertwined, and Christians, Sunnis and Shiites lived, and prayed, side by side.

But last year, things started to change.

First the Christians fled, their churches destroyed by insurgents.

Now Shiites are fleeing, leaving homes and businesses empty. At least 150 families have left; storefronts are boarded up, the shutters drawn on once-lively markets. Moving trucks rumble past paper signs proclaiming the exodus in hastily scrawled letters: "For Rent."

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Who are the Christians of Iraq?

October

Sectarian Strife tears apart Baghdad's Neighborhoods 10, 01, 05

September

POLITICS-IRAQ: Kurd's Voting Shenanigans Cloud Key Province 9, 28, 05 

Church in Iraq Helps Rebuild New Orleans Parish; U.S. Relief Agency Bridges Partnership 9, 28, 05

The Armenian Genocide And The Assyrian Factor 9, 28, 05

Interview with the Writer and the Historian Rosie Malek-Younan 9, 28, 05

Assyrian Cultural Festival in Ceres CA. 9, 27, 05

Swedish Radio's Decision to End Turkish Language Broadcasts 9, 27, 05

Assyrian Refugees Face Harsh Discrimination in Greece 9, 26, 05

A cry of help by the Assyrians 9, 26, 05

samples of songs by various Eastern and Western Assyiran singers. 9, 24, 05

USAID: Iraq Reconstruction and Humanitarian Relief  9, 24, 05

4 Assyrians Killed in Assassination Attempt on Former Iraq Assyrian Minister  9, 23, 05 

Seminar in Stokholm About Seyfo ( world war one massacres)  9, 22, 05

Iraq chaos threatens ancient faith 9, 22, 05 

The Crimson Field Previews 9, 17, 05  

Treatment of Horses" by the Assyrian scientist of the 13th century Faraj  9, 21, 05 

A New Satellite T.V. Program From San Jose 9, 20, 05

English translation of the ancient Mesopotamian tablets  9, 20, 05

First Nestorian [Church of the East] search engine goes online 9, 19, 05

Download Assyrian songs.by ReeMon 9, 18, 05 

Letter from the 'Save the Assyrian Campaign'. 9, 16, 05 

Growing Opposition to Dividing the Assyrians 9, 16, 05

Books by Assyrian writers 9, 15, 05

English cardinal warns of Iraqi constitution  9, 14, 05

Brutality Against Christians in Iraq Continues 9, 13, 05

John Kanno for Congress  9, 12, 05

Reply to Culomnist Ken Rudin   9, 12, 05

Assyrians: Wine-producing season starts in Midyat 9, 11, 05

Iraqi Christians cautious about new constitution 9, 11, 05

Assyrian Human Rights Documentation Project Launched in Canada 9, 6, 05

Fire Consumes Over 500 Assyrian Shops in Baghdad Suburb 9, 6, 05 

Education in Armenia for Assyrians and other Minorities 9, 6, 05

Capital of Musasir gov't in northwest Iran Discovered  9, 5, 05

The Assyrian Democratic Organization Rejects Iraq's Constitution 9, 4, 05

The Ordeal of the Christians in Arab countries 9, 3, 05

August

"Arab Christians"? Not in My View  8, 31, 05

Emotional Funeral for Assyrian Murdered By Kurds in Iraq 8, 31, 05 

Risking it all for a song 8, 31, 05

Iraq's draft constitution and the ChaldoAssyrians 8, 30, 05

Kurdish Reprisal Attacks Against Assyrian Christians in Iraq  8, 27, 05

For Basra's Christians, Hussein era the good old days 8, 28, 05

Assyrian Restuarant in Chicago Reminds Iraqis of Home 8, 28. 05

Assyrians in Northern Iraq terrorized by the Kurdish Mlitia 8, 27, 05

Iraq's Proposed constitution could lead to fragmented state. 8, 27, 05

Conflicts between Kurds and the Shabak 8, 26, 05

New Iraq constitution may throw women's rights into Stone Age  8, 26, 05

Assyrians of Telesqof demonstrate against being divided in the Constitution 8, 25. 05

Assyrian Demonstrators Voice their Concern about the New Iraqi Constitution 8, 24, 05

A letter from the Rep.of Shabak in the National Assermbly  8, 24, 05

New Iraq constitution must protect Christians 8, 22, 05 

The text of the latest Proposed Iraq Constitution  8, 22, 05

Outside View: Who lost Iraq?  8, 22, 05

Iraq's Religious Minorities Concerned About Islamic Constitution 8, 22, 05  

Iraq TV's 'Cops' breaks new ground  8, 21, 05  

Young Catholics Gather in Baghdad  8, 20 05

Iraqis Squeezed Out By Kurdish Expansion, Muslim-Centric Constitution 8, 20, 05

A Memoradum from the Christians of Iraq to the Drafters of the Constitution. 8, 20, 05

Shafting Nineveh: The Fate of Iraqi Christians 8, 20, 05

Plea for Assyrian Christians and Iraqi minorities 8, 18, 05

Undemocratic aspects of the new Iraqi constitution draft 8, 17, 05

Iraqis vent rage on call-in TV after bombs kill 43 8, 17, 05

Iraq's Non-Muslims' Constitution Fears  8, 17, 05

Kurdish Gunmen Open Fire on Demonstrators in North Iraq 8, 16, 05

Their suffering continues 8, 14, 05

IRAQ: Focus on constitutional concerns 8, 14, 05

Photos form homeland  8, 14, 05

Despite Turmoil, Christians Place Faith in New Iraq 8, 13, 05 

Iraqi-American Translators: The Untold Story 8, 12, 05

Life in Ankawa 8, 12, 05

Why Torah's Hebrew script was Changed to the square Assyrian script 8, 11, 05

Assyrian Restaurant in Chicago  8, 10, 05

Speech at the Commonwealth Club of California By Fred Aprim 8, 10, 05

KURDS TAKE A HARD-LINE STANCE ON IRAQI CONSTITUTION  8, 10, 05

72nd Assyrian American National Convention   8, 09, 05

Unresolved Iraqi Constitutional Points  8, 09, 05

Information wanted for Upcoming Documentary about Iraqi women 8, 09, 05

Assyrian Objection to the Nationality Law 8, 06, 05

Iraqi Christians Remember Church Bombings One Year Later 8, 05 05

Looted history  8, 05, 05 

Book Release: Rosie Malek-Yonan's "The Crimson Field" 8, 05, 05 

Iraq Must Avoid a Rollback of Rights 8, 04, 05 

Nina Shea: Rule of law, rule of Islam  8, 4, 05

Iraqis in U.S. Won't Vote on Constitution 8, 03, 05

Bush's Global War on Christians 8, 01, 05

An Open Letter to Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I  8, 01, 05 

Democracy could struggle in Islamic Iraq  7, 30, 05

Assyrian Granny Shimmes's Contribution to Rendezvous of Civilizations 7, 29, 05

House amends funding bill to help Iraqi Christians 7, 29, 05

Iraq draft constitution fails to protect religious, human rights, USCIRF says  7, 29, 05

July

Iraq Seeks New Religious Policies July 28, 05 

From Lingua Franca to Endangered Language, The Legal Aspects of the Preservation of Aramaic in Iraq  7, 28, 05

A closer look at the constitution   7, 27, 05 

SKIP THE PRELIMINARIES  7, 26, 05 

Ambassador signals U.S. will work to guarantee rights 7, 26, 05

Iraq Constitution May Erode Women's Rights 7, 26, 05 

Kirkuk Conflict over the Identity of a City of all Races and Religions  7, 24, 05

Religious Minorities in Iraq Worried Constitution Won't Protect Them 7, 23, 05

Iraqi Christians fear prospect of Islamic law 7, 23, 05

Four dilemmas in Iraqi Constitution  7, 23, 05

Babylon's dirty secrets: No tablet left unturned  Jluy 23, 05

Federalism can prevent Iraq civil war July 22, 05

ENOKIAN: Understanding will not fix the Middle East  July 21. 05

REP. ANNA ESHOO URGES SUPPORT OF IRAQI RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY July 21, 05 

Iraqi Christians find safety in Syria July 19, 05

Assyrians in northern California press for inclusion  July 18, 0 5

Appeal of the Iraqi Women Movement  July 17, 05

International Meeting of Muslim Scholars July 17, 05

Turkmen position on the democratisation effort in Iraq  July 17, 05 

Request the Return of the Church in Turkey  July 17, 05

Iraq's Christians Fearful of Islamic Law July 17, 05 

As Many as 80,000 Assyrian Christians Have Fled Iraq July 16, 05

ASSYRIAN UNIVERSAL ALLIANCE MEETING IN LONDON July 16, 05 

Conference on Assyriology to draw 300 scholars  July 15, 05

Iraq faith minorities fear being left out under law July 14, 05

Report to the U.K Parliament about the Chaldo-Assyrians in Iraq July 13, 05

Debate in the U.K. Parliament about the State of Christians in Iraq July 12, 05  

Upcoming Press Conference in Washington D.C.: Iraq's Imperiled Minorities July 11, 05

Teaching and Broadcasting in Syriac Language  July 4, 05

Assyrian Tennis Player Wins in Wimbledon July 4. 05

Christians in Iraq face threats from all sides  July 2, 05

Philadelphia's IVC Joins 'Partners for Peace' Project with Iraq  July 2, 05

Iraqi Dam Will Obliterate Ancient Assyrian Capital July 1, 05

 

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