Friday, February 22, 2013

Iraqi-Jewish building to become heritage site

The Iraqi newspaper Alsumaria News has reported that a building constructed by a Jewish merchant in the city of Diwaniya will become a heritage site. The article fudges the circumstances surrounding the Jewish exodus, but it is a good sign that some physical evidence of the ancient Jewish presence is being preserved. Here is a rough translation (with thanks: Aymenn):

Diwaniya province announced Wednesday that it would convert a building built by the Jews early last century into a  heritage building: guards will protect the building to maintain its features, while the Ministry of Antiquities will offer to buy it from its owners.

The director of the heritage center in the province of Diwaniyah, 180 km from Baghdad. Ghalib al-Kaabi said in an interview with Alsumaria News that a decision had been issued by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to name a building constructed in heart of the commercial center of the city of Diwaniya, a heritage site.

The building, which consists of two floors and covers an area of more than 400m, dates back to the 1920s and was built by a Jewish merchant named Sasson Khadouri.

The present owners would be "barred from selling to any party other than the Minister of Tourism or change the character of the building according to the law."

The building is eligible to be a first class tourist site for its architectural style and unique inscriptions.

It is noteworthy that Iraq was home to a large number of followers of Judaism in the past, but many of them left the country in waves of mass displacement  after the establishment of the State of Israel in the aftermath of the war between Arabs and Israelis in 1948. Iraqi Jews were a sector rich and active within Iraqi society.

Read article in full (arabic) 

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