What used to be a rare scene in war-torn Iraq is becoming quite common again: Families gather in lush parks after prayers and breakfast and stay until all hours of the night. Small children play, old men battle for supremacy in dominoes, and young men gathered around hot teas argue over politics - all possible due to Iraq's ever improving security situation. Before the American invasion in 2003, Baghdad's parks and public squares were known for their traditional games. Men would journey from all over Iraq on holidays to play games of Mohaibi, dominoes and backgammon. During the occupation, this was impossible due to the chaotic security situation. Battling between the militias, the Iraqi government, and the US Military made it unlikely that anyone in Baghdad could come to the parks at all. Now they stay until dawn, unthreatened by terrorists, criminal gangs or militia attacks. It's not just old men and their traditions enjoying the new era of freedom and security. Young Iraqi men take full advantage of their country's experiment with western democracy, using the parks to meet and discuss politics, music, and of course the number one preoccupation of young men worldwide: girls. Indeed, even Iraqi women are able to come out and socialize for hours without fear of harrassment. This week as the final votes are counted in Iraq's elections, we offer you another side of Iraq's tenuous relationship with Western-style democracy - The tales of a few Iraqis able to once again enjoy and take pride in their country's rich public atmosphere.
aliveinbaghdad.orgAlive in Baghdad was formed to counter the sound-bite driven, 'Live From' news model. Through the work of a team of Americans and Iraqi correspondents on the ground, Alive in Baghdad shows the occupation through the voices of Iraqis. Alive in Baghdad brings testimonies from individual Iraqis, footage of daily life in Iraq, and short news segments from Iraq to you.