Iraqis use fake identities to save their lives

I got a fake ID card to protect myself from the Shia militias who are deploying in Baghdad and hunt Sunnis."

Iraqis use fake identities to save their lives

A fresh wave of sectarian violence hit the war-devastated Iraq over the past few days, claiming the lives of dozens of innocent people, including women and children, from both, Sunni and Shia communities.

At least ten people died and dozens more were wounded when two bomb blasts struck a Shia enclave on Monday.

And in a Sunni Arab neighborhood, an attack on civilians bus by a group of unidentified gunmen, killed seven people.

Also about 23 people died in other shootings and bombings around Iraq, raising new fears that the country is descending into civil war and proving the incompetence of the new government, led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

Earlier this week, more than 40 people died when gunmen stopped cars at a fake checkpoint in western Baghdad, signaling out the Sunni passengers and shooting them.

Iraq's Sunnis and Shias accuse one another of using death squads, which is widening the rift between the two main ethnic groups in Iraq.

To escape death, Iraqis are now resorting to faking IDs.

Selling fake IDs to Sunnis who fear being killed by Shias and Shias who fear being killed by Sunnis has become a flourishing business in Iraq, according to an article published on seattlepi.com.

It's very difficult, and almost impossible, to distinguish between a Sunni and a Shia by sight, you can only know from their names: the first name is usually a name of some historical figure revered by one of the two sects, while surnames refer to tribe and clan.

"I got a fake ID card to protect myself from the Shia militias who are deploying in Baghdad and hunt Sunnis at fake checkpoints," said Omar Abdul Rahman, a university student.

This demonstrates the level of tension between Iraq's Sunnis and Shias, made worse by last February's attack at al-Askari shrine, one of Shia Islam's most revered sites in the Iraqi city of Samarra.

Iraqi authorities are aware of "faking IDs" business, according to Interior Ministry Maj. Gen. Mahdi al-Gharawi, who also said that no action had been taken simply because they seek stopping violence between the two groups first.

"They are issuing Sunni IDs in the Shias areas and vice versa," he said.

"It's illegal, but one can understand why they do it."

Wissam Mohammad al-Ani, a 27-year-old Sunni calligrapher, said that carrying a false ID with a Shia name saved his life when gunmen tried to attack him once.

"When they saw it, they let me go," he said.

Owner of one of Baghdad's bookstores, which has become famous for faking ID, says that he buys blank IDs from print shops, fill it with information requested by his clients, then add their photos, a process known among Iraqis as "the change."

The bookstore owner says that most of his customers are Shia drivers and construction workers who seek jobs in Sunni neighborhoods.

Prices range from 5,000 Iraqi dinars ($3.50) for a card that looks like one issued during the rule of the toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, to 50,000 Iraqi dinars ($35) for a modern version.

Faking IDs spiked after February 22 attack in Samarra.

"Nobody did the change from Shia to Sunni before that, when the real sectarian tension began," he said.

Some Iraqis say that faking IDs was practiced during Saddam's era, but it was very limited.

The ID business only started to flourish after the occupation that fueled sectarian tension which threatens to drown Iraq in a bloody civil war.

"Under Saddam it used to be shameful, but now everybody's doing it," the bookseller said.

Neither Sunni nor Shia Islam in Iraq has any tradition of hostility toward the other, but the U.S. occupation fueled the tension between the country's main ethnic groups in an attempt to weaken the nation and thus allow a smooth implementation of the U.S. agenda, which includes laying hand on the country's riches and oil wealth.

It is a classic divide-and-conquer scheme pursued by the Bush administration since the earliest days of the occupation.

The U.S. influenced the formation of the Iraqi constitution that subdivided the nation by religion and culture so as to provoke resource disputes between the subdivisions.

The U.S. comprehended that a united Iraq was a bigger challenge to its hegemony than a divided Iraq.

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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