Baghdad Bookshop

Here’s an interesting piece by AP reporter Hamza Hemdawi about Iqra’, a small Baghdad bookshop trying to do business in the midst of war.

The Baghdad of 2005 throws up an incongruous scene – American Humvees on the streets, one or two bombings a day, gunfire echoing in the distance, and election posters plastered on the walls promising anything from the departure of the Americans to better security and economic prosperity.

Yet in Iqra’a, Arabic for “read,” the usual bookish atmosphere prevailed. The shelves were stacked with Shakespeare, Hemingway and Omar Khayyam. News in Arabic from the BBC filled the air as students hunted for bargains, often a book discarded by U.S. troops and sold to Iqra’a by base cleaners who haul them in by the box.

On sale was “Islam for Dummies,” with the name of its former owner, a Capt. Bossolo, scribbled on it.

Islam for Dummies in the soldiers’ trashbins. That’s got to be a metaphor for something.

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