Sectarian Identities, Narratives and Political Conflict in Baghdad
This article addresses some of the effects of political transformations and conflicts on the identity of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. It illustrates the gradual “Islamization” of space by Saddam Hussein’s regime, which reflected a sectarian bias as it denied Shi’a religious identity the level of visibility given to Sunni religious identity. After the fall of the regime, there was an upsurge in Shi’a symbolism and rituals in Baghdad, which further de-secularized and sectarianized the public space. The article also addresses some of the cultural consequences for the sectarian segregation in Baghdad, especially by looking into the mosques and worship places, their sectarian distribution and the contesting claims regarding some of them. The rise of sub-national cultures and the competition between Shi’as and Sunnis have further fragmented Baghdad’s identity and downgraded the cross-sectarian representations. This has been mirrored in the conflict of narratives about the city which is discussed in the last part of this article.
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