From Christoph Bangert / Polaris, for The New York Times
?The main thing now is to just get out of Iraq,? said Assad Bahjat, shown here with his wife, Eileen, and their two children, Elvis, left, and Andres.
In the last 10 months, as the violence has continued unabated, Iraq has issued new passports to 1.85 million Iraqis, 7% of the population and a quarter of the country’s middle class.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 18 ? Deaths run like water through the life of the Bahjat family. Four neighbors. A barber. Three grocers. Two men who ran a currency exchange shop.
But when six armed men stormed into their sons’ primary school this month, shot a guard dead, and left fliers ordering it to close, Assad Bahjat knew it was time to leave.
“The main thing now is to just get out of Iraq,” said Mr. Bahjat, standing in a room heaped with suitcases and bedroom furniture in eastern Baghdad.
In the latest indication of the crushing hardships weighing on the lives of Iraqis, increasing portions of the middle class seem to be doing everything they can to leave the country. In the last 10 months, the state has issued new passports to 1.85 million Iraqis, 7 percent of the population and a quarter of the country’s estimated middle class.