Making a Living in Iraqi ‘City of Death’


In another life or time, these four men in Baghdad might have found different callings. Maybe as laborers. Maybe teachers. Maybe even doctors. Instead, their work is death. One man cleans human flesh from the streets and disposes of body parts no one can identify. Another works at a mosque, where his job has evolved into full-time funeral planner. Another makes his living by reading verses from the Quran at funerals.

And one, Hamid Ahmed, lines up outside the morgue each day. A taxi driver for the departed, he drives bodies to a cemetery outside of town. “All Iraqis living here now are going to be killed,” Ahmed says matter-of-factly. “When the fighting is over, all the Iraqis who left will return and inherit everything left in the country.” Each day, these men go about their work in Iraq’s growth industry, the industry of death. The Newark Star-Ledger profiles the men.


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