Night Life Returns to Baghdad - 02.02.2009

What used to be a rare scene in war-torn Iraq is becoming quite common again: Families gather in lush parks after prayers and breakfast and stay until all hours of the night. Small children play, old men battle for supremacy in dominoes, and young men gathered around hot teas
argue over politics - all possible due to Iraq’s ever improving security situation.

Before the American invasion in 2003, Baghdad’s parks and public squares were known for their traditional games. Men would journey from
all over Iraq on holidays to play games of Mohaibi, dominoes and backgammon. During the occupation, this was impossible due to the
chaotic security situation. Battling between the militias, the Iraqi government, and the US Military made it unlikely that anyone in
Baghdad could come to the parks at all. Now they stay until dawn, unthreatened by terrorists, criminal gangs or militia attacks.

It’s not just old men and their traditions enjoying the new era of freedom and security. Young Iraqi men take full advantage of their country’s experiment with western democracy, using the parks to meet and discuss politics, music, and of course the number one preoccupation of young men worldwide: girls. Indeed, even Iraqi women are able to come out and socialize for hours without fear of harassment.

This week as the final votes are counted in Iraq’s elections, we offer you another side of Iraq’s tenuous relationship with Western-style
democracy - The tales of a few Iraqis able to once again enjoy and take pride in their country’s rich public atmosphere.

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