Agency to protect Baghdad’s architectural heritage

Fawziya al-Maliki, an elegant and determined 44-year old, is spearheading Iraq’s efforts to preserve what architectural treasures remain in the war-ravaged country, but her job is proving dangerous.

With many Iraqis fiercely opposed to letting cultural concerns undermine their financial interests, Maliki received death threats in early February for prohibiting the demolition of an old house in central Baghdad to make way for a new apartment block.

“Lots of people took advantage of the chaos after the US invasion in 2003, when laws were not being enforced, to demolish their houses, especially in Kifah, Al-Rasheed and Haifa street, as well as in Adhamiyah,” the capital’s historic center, said Maliki, the director of Heritage, a state agency recently set up by the Culture Ministry.

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