Sunnis, Shiites show Unity in Najaf

By Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

For displaced Iraqi citizen Saad al-Jabouri, this year’s Ramadan has been a good one. He left Kirkuk with his family of four on July 20, 2014.

They were generously welcomed in the city of Hillah, in the center of Babil province, south of Baghdad, where the residents provided them with a free iftar after a long day of fasting.

Jabouri told Al-Monitor that the food he received was more than he needed, noting, “Many displaced who moved from north and west Iraq to Babil feel the same.”

The UN delegation in Iraq announced June 23 that the number of displaced people in Iraq, largely from northern and western regions, had reached over 3 million people distributed among all provinces, as a result of the Islamic State (IS) invading vast areas in Iraq since June 2014.

Al-Monitor attended free iftars prepared for the poor in mosques in the holy city of Najaf. During one of these ceremonies, Ali al-Khalsi, a displaced Shiite from Diyala province, told Al-Monitor he “asked the local government to grant [him] permanent residency in Najaf because of the great treatment and hospitality expressed by the city’s residents.”

Al-Monitor noticed cooperation between different sects during a visit to the holy mosques in Karbala, south of Baghdad, where food was distributed to both the displaced and the city’s original residents alike. Said Hassan, a displaced Sunni from Salahuddin province, told Al-Monitor that he is considering “officially settling in the city of Karbala,” saying, “I even got a job as a taxi driver, which I was never able to do in my hometown.”

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