Sunday, April 29, 2007

Perspective: The accursed -- Widows of Iraq’s torn-apart society

When Um Noor’s husband was blown to pieces by a car bomb last year, she drew comfort from the thought that she and her five children could at least depend on their close-knit community for support.

But Um Noor, a fragile figure barely 5ft tall, was a Sunni in the predominantly Shi’ite Baghdad district of Amil, and sectarian strife was taking the city by storm.

Soon her brother was murdered by a Shi’ite gang that spotted him in the street and chased him into a neighbour’s house where he was shot in cold blood.

Then the death squad burst into Um Noor’s own home and dragged away her eldest son and a nephew only six years old. They, too, were shot, just for being the sons of Sunnis.

Um Noor fled to a Sunni area where she believed she would find sanctuary, only to be warned that her remaining children were at risk from hitmen on her side of the sectarian divide. The reason: her husband had been Shi’ite. That made her children Shi’ites - potential targets for Sunni gunmen with a particular distaste for mixed marriages.

Read the rest at the Times of London