|Baghdad Park Protected|
U.S. forces in Iraq are protecting a certain park in Baghdad, according to USA Today. The reason they are protecting it is to give young people a chance to court! The park was built in 2007 with U.S. money. Rebuilding and protecting public places is one of the goals of the new U.S. strategy in Iraq.
It's dangerous for single men and women in Iraq to be seen together in public. As one Iraqi youth activist put it, "If a boy and a girl are walking down the street together today, any sicko extremists could come and just kill them at any moment." But not at Abu Nawas Park. A U.S. security firm under contract with the U.S. Army mans four checkpoints, searching every car, keeping anyone with a weapon out—including Iraqi police. A supervisor for the security company said, "The couples are free to come and do whatever they want. We have orders from our company and from the American Army."
Now on many days every bench in the park is taken as young couples sneak off to meet—couples like 26-year-old Enas and her boyfriend Hussein, who were interviewed in the USA Today article. They met two years ago, but this was only the third time they'd been together in person. "This is the safest single place in Baghdad," Enas said. "Anywhere else in Baghdad, I would be in danger if they saw me sitting here with a boy like this."
Reference: Charles Levinson, "Baghdad park a unique refuge for couples in love," USA Today (7-7-08)