Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ethnic residential separation in Iraq?

[Global Saturday]

  Residential integration of people of different ethnicities is the best way for a society to foster equality and understanding.  America’s hesitancy in encouraging housing integration casts a shadow over our legal efforts in educational integration and equal rights.  But when other nations simply cannot maintain even peaceful coexistence among ethnicities, physical segregation may be the second-best solution, I contend.  Although it pains ostensibly ethnicity-blind Americans to admit it, spatial separation has saved countless lives in Greece and Turkey (where millions moved to their ethnically “home” nation after World War I), in the states of the former Soviet Union (where many non-Russian peoples were allowed to follow their own destiny, without much bloodshed), and in Northern Ireland (where laws sometimes require separation of potential battling religious groups).

   I am leading to Iraq, of course, in which a potential solution of separation of the three major population groups –- Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds –- is now being finally being considered in voices louder than a whisper.  In response to the crippling violence, many ordinary Iraqi citizens who have lived as regional minorities are now relocating to regions in which their group is the majority, according to Iraqi-born American political scientist Adeed Dawisha, who was interviewed on National Public Radio this morningIndianpartition This is reminiscent, on a much smaller scale, of the enormous population migration of Muslims and Hindus to and from India and Pakistan, when the two nations split after World War II (see photo).  Such migrations cause suffering and are in many cases unfair, but in the long run they can avoid violent conflict and saves lives.

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