Sunday, March 11, 2007

Perspective: In the bombing of a book market, a haven turns to ash

A charred body lies untouched as firefighters fight the smoldering flames

BAGHDAD, March 9 -- On a pile of bricks, someone had left a pink plastic flower, a pair of glasses and a book with crisp, white pages. They glowed in the black debris of Mutanabi Street, which by Friday had become a graveyard of memories. At 9:03 a.m., a man in a rumpled brown suit walked past dark banners mourning the dead. He stopped near the flower and the book, which was opened to a chapter on the virtues of Baghdad.

"There is no God but God," he said, his voice disappearing in the cracking sound of a shovel against debris. He stared at the gutted bookshops, hollowed like skulls by the blast and the flames. He lowered his head, fighting back tears.

Then he turned and walked away.

On Friday morning, Iraqis continued to drift to Mutanabi Street, four days after a car bomb took the lives of at least 26 people and injured dozens more. Some came to hunt for the remains of loved ones. Others came to mourn a street that represented the intellectual soul of a nation known for its love affair with books. For many, the narrow warren of shops had seemed to defy Iraq's woes.

Read the rest at the Washington Post