In two of his novels, The Corpse Washer and Hail Mary, Iraqi novelist Sinan Antoon has touched on the growing sectarianization of Iraq. In an interview published on Ahram Online and Jadaliyya, he says “it may be too late to save Iraq’s Christians”:
Uncle Sabri is also there when the electricity flips back on and Paul Bremer announces a new ruling council for the country:
“The council was a hodgepodge of names supposedly representing the spectrum of Iraqi society, but we had never heard of most of them. What they had in common was that each name was preceded by its sect: Sunni, Shia, Christian … We were not accustomed to such a thing. My uncle was furious when he saw the secretary general of the Iraqi Communist Party sitting with the other members. …
In Hail Mary, shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, the two main characters — the older Youssef and the younger Maha — have ongoing discussions about the chances of Christians have in Iraq. In the end, the elder is killed during a mass.
From Ahram Online:
“It is a sad scene; very true; it is the death of this Iraqi who believed in himself as an Iraqi and whose national sentiments co-existed with his religious belief,” Antoon said.
Would this be the “fate” of all those remaining “Youssefs”? Maybe and maybe not, Antoon suggested.
It all depends, he argued, on whether the ruling regime in Iraq wants to end the sectarianism “or at least start to end it” that has been “institutionalised” since the US invasion.
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