Iraqi Reporter: The Wounded Die Alone on Baghdad's Streets
This is from the LA Times: Because this account of daily life in Baghdad reveals where the writer lives, his name is not being used to protect his safety. He is a 54-year-old Iraqi reporter in The Times' Baghdad Bureau. Please read the entire article.
I've lived in my neighborhood for 25 years. My daughters went to kindergarten and elementary school here. I'm a Christian. My neighbors are mostly Sunni Arabs. We had always lived in harmony. Before the U.S.-led invasion, we would visit for tea and a chat. On summer afternoons, we would meet on the corner to joke and talk politics.
It used to be a nice upper-middle-class neighborhood, bustling with commerce and traffic. On the main street, ice cream parlors, hamburger stands and take-away restaurants competed for space. We would rent videos and buy household appliances.
Until 2005, we were mostly unaffected by violence. We would hear shootings and explosions now and again, but compared with other places in Baghdad, it was relatively peaceful.
Then, late in 2005, someone blew up three supermarkets in the area. Shops started closing. Most of the small number of Shiite Muslim families moved out. The commercial street became a ghost road.
On Christmas Day last year, we visited -- as always -- our local church, St. Thomas, in Mansour. It was half-empty. Some members of the congregation had left the country; others feared coming to church after a series of attacks against Christians.
American troops, who patrol the neighborhood in Humvees, have also become edgy. Get too close, and they'll shoot. A colleague -- an interpreter and physician -- was shot and killed by soldiers last year on his way home from a shopping trip. He hadn't noticed the Humvees parked on the street.
By early this year, living in my neighborhood had become a nightmare. In addition to anti-American graffiti, there were fliers telling women to wear conservative clothes and to cover their hair. Men were told not to wear shorts or jeans.
For me, as a Christian, it was unacceptable that someone would tell my wife and daughters what to wear. What's the use of freedom if someone is telling you what to wear, how to behave or what to do in your life?
But coming home one day, I saw my wife on the street. I didn't recognize her. She had covered up.