How the US invasion affected sectarianism in Iraq

Islam and Politics

According to Haifa Zanani, Iraqi woman in exile and author of City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman’s Account of War and Resistance:

From “The End of Iraq”

“The problem in Iraq today is not Islam”

Furthermore, she continues to note that on the ground in Iraq are politcal parties subject to their own ideas of religious loyalty and hiding their collaboration with occupying forces. Although Iraq was describes as secular, particular after the 1958 revolution, it has its own unique interpretation of Islam. Zanani describes it as the “culture of Islam”, in the sense that everyday Iraqis do not consider Islam a slogan or motto to be displayed, and do not feel they need a turban or hijab to display their devotion to religion or their identity. Rather, they carry Islam within them as a componet of their life.

Hani, an Iraqi-American man I interviewed told me that:

“the sectarian divide is truly seen in the politics. Different parties try to gain power within the government by winning elections. When the people see the political leaders fighting, they begin to argue and fight amongst themselves as well”


The first elected government of Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein convened on May 20, 2006
From “The End of Iraq”

After the fall of the Hussein regime, political leaders increasingly began to use religion to gain power in government. In elections, identity became a factor for voting decisions.

According to Rami, an Iraqi refugee I interviewed who had just been in Iraq 9 months ago:

“The government, they need this, they need these differences[between the people] to be bigger to make all the Shiite always elect them in the election, and the Sunni want the same thing. So always, when they start the election, they say, hey we are the best people representing you because we are from this certain background”


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