One of the first things you notice when traveling in Iraq are the blast walls. These giant concrete barriers are everywhere – in front of government buildings, schools, mosques and dividing Shia from Sunni neighborhoods. They remind me of the “peace walls” put up in Northern Ireland to keep opposing sides from killing each other.
Like the Irish peace walls, they’re ugly, and some locals have decided to beautify them. Iraqi street art has its own distinctive flavor. This Banksy style example in Baghdad sends a message any Iraqi can empathize with. Others are simple graffiti. Many more are officially sanctioned and proclaim the importance of education or rebuilding.
There are even some at the ubiquitous checkpoints, showing happy soldiers being nice to people. Some of the troops have even decorated the checkpoints with plastic flowers in a desperate and ultimately futile attempt to change the vibe. The plastic flowers are nice, but you’re still being stopped by Kalashnikov-toting guys searching for suicide bombers.
%Gallery-171121%I prefer the civilian art, especially the one shown below, showing a weird TV-headed figure balancing a heart and a gun. Check out the gallery for more!
Don’t miss the rest of my series, “Destination: Iraq,” chronicling my 17-day journey across this strife-ridden country in search of adventure, archaeology, and AK-47s.
Coming up next: “Ten Minutes Of Terror In Iraq!”
[Photos by Sean McLachlan]