Thursday, November 19, 2009

The sectarian segregation of Baghdad

Baghdad has been increasingly segregated by sect over the last six years as a result of the conflict. I read Joel Wng's post in which he mentioned that Amriya was listed as Shiite-majority in 2003, which struck me as odd. My uncles moved to Amriya with my grandparents in the late 60s and my impression was that Amriya was always a Sunni majroity neighborhood, especially after my uncles were evicted from their homes in 2005. But in reality Amriya must have been a mixed neighborhood, because other distant relatives of mine, also Shia, lived there and prospered there for many years.

I wrote this in March 2007: 'In the 1960s my grandparents moved from Nejef to Amriya, a neighborhood in western Baghdad. After my grandparents died, two of my uncles continued to live in their parent's house without problems until 2004, when 'mujahideen' started taking over the neighborhood. In the summer of 2005 my uncles received a letter telling them to leave or they would be killed. Fearing for their lives, my uncles took their wives and kids to Nejef, where they are lucky to have places to stay. I don't think any Shia live in Amriya anymore.'

For this reason I thought Amriya was a Sunni neighborhood, but according to a map by Dr. Michael Izady of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, Amriya was a Shia-majority neighborhood in 2003.

Baghdad by sect in 2003:

By 2006, Amriya was turned into a Sunni-majority neighborhood:

In late 2006 Zeyad of Healing Iraq also showed Amriya as a Sunni district.

How the hell did Armiya go from a Shia-majority district to a Sunni-majority district in three years? Here are some clues:

'Al Amriya is considered amongst most sect-driven areas in the capital and the Takfiris - with short dishdash and Afghan style dreadlocks were quite active and until one month ago.

Before, the Takfiris were usually seen in the streets shooting at any unidentified passersby and would slaughter - with the literal meaning of the word, anyone in its home if they ‘deem’ that he/she worked for the invaders authority. Also, they would target the police forces (mainly Shiites) and abduct cops and later would chop their heads off and dumb them in the trash. And they too planted road bombs to get the invaders forces.'

This explains how many Shia, including my two uncles and distant relatives, were expelled by violence and threats of violence in Amriya.

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