Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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IRAQ: A feast, a sheep, a bomb

October 1, 2008 |  7:27 am

Sheep_baghdad Dust blew out of the desert and into Baghdad. It whirled around the sheep standing on a corner, eating grass, waiting to be sold. A man arrived in a small truck. He got out and waded into the sheep, pulling at their wool, feeling their sides, lifting their front legs and checking their bellies. It looked like he was dancing with them.

He chose one and hauled it away from the others. The sheep fought. The man pushed it aside, spotting a fatter one hiding in the herd. He carried it to the back of his truck, hooves clattering metal, the door slamming shut. The man paid for the sheep. He smiled. It was the eve of the Eid for Shiite Muslims in Iraq -- the end of 30 days' fasting.

It seemed normal. A man went to the market to buy his family's feast. He praised God. But he drove home through Army checkpoints, blast walls and barbed wire. And news that, although Iraq's casualties are dropping, some people would not live to break their fast -- a car bomb in the city of Balad 80 kilometers north of Baghdad exploded near a shrine, killing three and wounding 30.

Jeffrey Fleishman in Baghdad

An Iraqi boy with his sheep. Associated Press