Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
International

Iraq's Sectarian Violence Forces Displacement, Fear

An elderly Shiite Iraqi woman peers from her tent at a camp for displaced people north of Baghdad, Oct. 7, 2006.
/ AFP/Getty Image
An elderly Shiite Iraqi woman peers from her tent at a camp for displaced people north of Baghdad, Oct. 7, 2006.

Escalating sectarian violence in Iraq has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and has led many Iraqis to conceal their identities out of fear, according to the author of a new study.

The Brookings Institution report, co-authored by Victor Tanner, suggests just how dramatically that violence is altering the landscape in Iraq. It finds that in some areas, the sectarian cleansing is complete. Whoever is in a minority in a particular neighborhood -- Sunni or Shia -- has been driven away or killed.

And neighborhoods or other areas in Baghdad that once were mixed, aren't any longer, Tanner tells Steve Inskeep.

"Increasingly, areas that were either Shia- or Sunni-dominated have been completely cleansed of the other group..." Tanner says.

The violence has forced Iraqis to move from their neighborhoods. In many cases, people are so frightened that they're changing their names.

"People are changing their identity cards, or are carrying a couple of them," Tanner says. "People are changing the ring tones on their cell phones. We heard of people in Sunni areas loading Shia religious songs as ring tones for their cell phone to try and protect themselves when they were in Shia areas."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.