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Iraq's Sunni-Shiite Families Fear Renewed Sectarian Violence

Iraq’s estimated 2 million mixed Sunni-Shiite families are worried that renewed sectarian violence could have a devastating effect on their daily lives, writes Bushra Al Mudhafar.
Sunni Muslims shout slogans during an anti-government demonstration in Falluja, 50 km (31 miles) west of Baghdad, March 15, 2013. Thousands of Sunni Muslims protested after Friday prayers in huge rallies against Shi'ite Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, demanding that he step down. The signs read, "We are coming, Baghdad".                        REUTERS/Mohanned Faisal (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3F11P
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The signs of anticipation take shape upon her face as 26-year-old Alia feels her heart begin to race with anxiety. She stands in front of the television watching a speech by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from March 7 on the occasion of International Women’s Day. She listens to him say “sectarian war is at the gates, and it won’t spare anyone this time.” Iraq is undergoing a state of instability, and danger is creeping toward the country, he added.

Alia lives with her husband in the Sunni-majority region of al-Amiriyyah, adjacent to al-Karakh in Baghdad. She had not finished listening to Maliki’s speech when the memories of the sectarian violence she and her family had endured from 2006 to 2008 came flooding back. Alia says that “for many long months I was unable to see my sick, bed-ridden father or my brothers. They’re Shiites, and live on Palestine Street on the al-Risafah side [the other half of Baghdad].”

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