Conservatives Try to Close 'Immoral' Coffee Shops

Al-Tamimi, who’s only been in the job for a month, also announced the creation of an advisory board for urban and cultural development and stressed that he wants to put an end to sectarian conflict as well as militias in the city. Reports from local authorities seem to back him up on that: even though critics said they were complicit, local security forces say they had nothing to do with the closures and that it was all down to the “clans” in Karada.

Meanwhile others say the incident could actually be a result of the growing rivalry between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and al-Sadr, who is a strong rival for the affections of Shiite Muslim voters in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. Al-Maliki’s party was not particularly successful in Baghdad in recent provincial elections and has lost key positions in the local government to rivals like the Sadrists. Perhaps unsurprisingly al-Maliki has already made disparaging comments about Baghdad’s new governor’s ability to control the city.

Meanwhile elsewhere in Baghdad there still seem to be plenty of similar coffee shops doing business as usual; customers are still patronising these venues and nobody seems particularly worried. That may well be because conservative factions such as the “Karada clan” have far less influence in these areas. Whether that will change in the future, is the factor that continues to worries those who oppose Baghdad’s religious conservatives.

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