Sectarian Violence Breaks Apart Iraqi Family

Many Iraqis are being forced to flee their homes under threat by sectarian gunmen. One NPR staff member in Baghdad explains how and why he has had to split his family up in the name of security.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's Saleem al-Shimiri(ph) contributed to that piece, as did NPR's Saad Qasim. Saad learned English while studying in Scotland. He and his family recently fled their home in Baghdad after receiving a sectarian threat letter. Saad Qasim has this commentary.

SAAD QASIM reporting:

To leave your house is one thing, to be thrown out of it and to split up a whole family in the end is something else. That is what happened to me.

In my wildest dreams I never thought that this would happen to us, because we are a family that embodies coexistence and tolerance. My wife is a Sunni Kurd and I'm a Shiite Arab. They said I and my family are bastards. Why? I didn't choose my sect or my name.

I don't feel sad about leaving the house, although I long for the memories of childhood in it. But I feel angry because of how things are and how dark I'm sure they shall be in the future. I haven't seen my family in a week. I took my daughter and wife to her sister's house in a Sunni neighborhood where they are safe but I am not. My mother has gone to a different place in the city. She doesn't deserve to be alone at her age, but she has asked me not to visit her because of the danger in the street. Sometimes at night, I just break down and cry remembering how my daughter used to crawl to me. The feeling of weakness and helplessness is getting the best of me, to the degree that I truly want to go out on the street, kill all the bad people, and restore happiness. I don't want the law of democracy. I want the law of law.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Saad Qasim.

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