My daughter and I spent the past weekend with my parents in law visiting Umar in Pennsylvania. Umar is my husband's first cousin, and he arrived about a week ago from Baghdad on a Fulbright scholarship to study here in the United States. The Fulbright Scholarship was resumed in Iraq in 2003 after 14 years of an embargo that included the economic as well as the academic spheres of life.
Over dinner, Umar was telling us his 'name story'. Interestingly, he has a very Sunni name, while his brother, Haidar, has a very Shiite name (bisectarian grandparents). Umar was telling us about how certain parts of Baghdad are prohibited for him to visit, and other are prohibited for his brother. While he is welcomed with open arms in Adhamiya, Haidar is forbidden from going there. And while Haidar is welcomed with open arms in Kadhimiya, Umar stays away for his own safety.
Thankfully you were able to escape this craziness for a bit, ya Umar, hopefully it'll be better when you go back, and either way, we're very proud of you!