Saturday, October 30, 2010

"They realized they are free now"

John Leland offers a fascinating and hopeful look at Sadr City, Baghdad's huge Shiite neighborhood. Once terrorized by Saddam's thugs, and then by the Mahdi Army of Moktada al-Sadr, the neighborhood now seems much more free. Leland found clean-shaven young men playing pool on street corners, internet cafes, a wedding shop doing a thriving business in risque gowns. One man explains that since Saddam banned Shiite religious rites, “Then after that, of course people were looking for religious ceremonies. But now, people have had enough of this. They’ve relieved themselves. They realized they are free now.”

The desire and ability of people to just get on with life always amazes me. In the midst of war, terrorism, revolution, natural disaster, they strive for the ordinary. Leave them alone, and they build lives full of music, games, work, wedding parties, prayer, fashion, and hanging out on street corners.

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