Nabil Comanny and his family endured the dead bodies left to decompose along the road in their southern Dora neighborhood in Baghdad. They coexisted with criminal gangs that roamed the area. Neither those perils nor utility failures and mountains of trash in the street could drive them away.
As Christians, the Comannys learned to keep a low profile. They even stayed in their house after many Muslim neighbors fled the daily chaos when sectarian bloodshed between Shi‘ite and Sunni militants broke out in 2006, making this one of Baghdad’s most embattled districts.
But the hand-scrawled note at their door was the final straw. The message commanded the family to select one of these options:
1. Convert to Islam.
2. Pay a fee of nearly $300 monthly for “protection.”