chapter  9
5 Pages

The Ghosts of Shorja Market

WithJonathan Spyer

Anti-Jewish laws were enacted in the 1930s. Violence grew and exploded in the "Farhud" massacres in 1941. The result was that the historic Jewish communities of Baghdad, along with those of Aleppo, Damascus, Qamishli and other areas, ceased to exist. This meant that there was a curious absence – a kind of silent, ghostly partner – in the raging ethno-sectarian warfare of the early twenty-first century. Taht al-Takiya was located inside the Shorja Market area of the city. A market had existed in the area since the Abbasid period in the eighth century. For a time, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Jews had dominated trade there. The death of Taht al-Takiya and the expulsion of Baghdad's Jews was a portent of what was to come. The Jews were the first minority to be ripped from the fabric of Iraqi society. Subsequent period, stagnation followed and dictatorships of unfathomable brutality imposed their will on the country.