Saturday, March 01, 2014

African Iraqis

Even though it makes perfect sense, I didn't realize there were this many Iraqis of African descent:
Over a million African Iraqis live in the country. Yet unlike other ethnic groups, they are not recognised as a legitimate minority, nor are they represented in Parliament. Despite some politicians' protests that there is no racism in Iraq and that affirmative action is not necessary, activists in the area are hoping that the coming elections might change this...
That means we make up about 5 percent of the population, says Uday al-Sadoun, a member of the Movement of Free Iraqis, or Ansar Al Huriyah, a political party formed by African-Iraqi activist, Jalal Thiyab, who was assassinated last April. Thiyab was often referred to as “the Martin Luther King of Iraq”. Pictures of King and another hero for African Iraqis, Barack Obama, hang in the organisation's offices...
Most African Iraqis live in the southern province of Basra; it is thought that many of them were originally brought there as slaves over a thousand years ago to help drain the marshes and build up the city. There are also other enclaves of African Iraqi around the country but these tend to be smaller than the population in Basra, where they mostly live in the Zubair area.
Despite their absence from Iraq's political life, African Iraqis are certainly visible in the country's cultural and social life. Examples include one of Iraq's best known singers in the 1970s, Hussein al-Basri, and well known Iraqi football players Qusay Munir and Amjad Khalaf.



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