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Black Iraqis Struggle To Shake Legacy of Racism

Although Iraqis of African descent have had a significant presence in the country since the days of slave trade, particularly in the port of Basra, this community continues to face racism today, as it has for centuries.
An African-Iraqi woman begs for money on a street in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad December 4, 2008. Inspired by Barack Obama's election in the United States, some black Iraqis plan to run in a forthcoming election, to end what they call centuries of discrimination because of their slave ancestry.  Picture taken on December 4.  To match feature IRAQ/BLACKS     REUTERS/Atef Hassan (IRAQ) - RTR22FNQ
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Many people are surprised to hear that there is a black minority of African descent in Iraq, particularly in Basra, and they are even more surprised to hear that this minority is being discriminated against and is falling victim to racism.

Their first reaction would be to repeat that the era of racism against blacks ended decades ago, or with the advent of Islam. But those ideas conflict with the societal reality in Iraq.

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