Prayers, candles and blood at makeshift Baghdad martyrs' museum

Arab World Materials 28 November 2019 21:43 (UTC +04:00)

A plastic helmet with a gaping bullet hole. A bloodsoaked T-shirt suspended next to a row of bloodsoaked flags. Tear gas grenades lined up in columns. Photo after photo of young men, on posters that bear the dates their government killed them, Trend reports citing Reuters.

What started as an ad hoc shrine to Iraqis killed in protests against government corruption has become a museum and memorial to scores of dead, a place of prayer and quiet reflection at the heart of Baghdad’s Tahrir square.

After two months of protests against a government widely viewed as corrupt and beholden to outside powers, Iraqis young and old have been converging on the makeshift museum to pay respects.

Tahrir, at the base of a bridge that leads across the Tigris to the fortified Green Zone government compound, has become sacred ground.

“As an Imam, I prefer to pray and read the Koran here than doing so at the mosque,” said Ibrahim Gharawy, an Islamic scholar in turban and robes. “Reading the Koran and praying in this place angers the corrupt.”

Near the exhibits, protesters have set up a long table, where Korans lay open among lit candles and melted wax. Carpets are laid alongside for people to kneel and pray.

“According to the Koran, the martyrs who died should not go in vain. There are more than 450 martyrs in Baghdad alone,” said a female student, whose face was veiled with a scarf of the black, red and white Iraqi flag. “Praying for them is the least we can do. I hope we gain our rights and be victorious.”