Saturday, January 28, 2006

Iraqis Leaving Religiously Mixed Areas

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - For months, the young Shiite couple could not decide whether to move from Dora, a mostly Sunni Arab neighborhood and one of Baghdad's most dangerous. After death threats, the murder of a neighbor and the birth of their first child, they decided it was time to go.

High rents kept Rana Ali and her husband, Hussein Youssef, from finding a new home in one of the capital's safest areas, where Shiites are dominant, and they could not afford refuge in Iraq's overwhelmingly Shiite south.

Instead, they settled in nearby Saydiyah, another majority Sunni area only marginally safer but with a larger Shiite population than their old neighborhood.

"It's a little better here," said Rana, a 23-year-old law graduate. "Living in Dora the past year was like being in the middle of a battlefield. But we started a life there and we lost a lot to come here."

The decision by the young couple to move is part of disturbing trend in this polarized society. As sectarian tensions rise and talk of civil war spreads, more Iraqis are moving to areas where their religious group is dominant."


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