‘Love locks’ bridge in Iraq lures threats but remains resilient
While the people of Basra were delighted with the new addition to the Iraqi city, extremist militants took notice of the bridge
Ayman Karim defied cultural odds when he realized his dream of building Basra’s very own version of Paris’s “love locks” bridge, a project not many were too happy about.
While the people of Basra were delighted with the new addition to the Iraqi city, extremist militants took notice of the bridge, which did not end well, the Washington Post reported.
“It was like someone was suffocating me,” Karim told the Post as he described the day when a group of masked gunmen threw the wire mesh that held hundreds of pad locks into the river.
After successfully inaugurating the “Love Bridge” with a party filled with music and poetry, Iraqis from different parts of the country reportedly flocked to Basra to seal mark their love in a pad lock overlooking the Shatt al Arab River.
Soon after the word spread, Karim received a death threat in the form of a bullet in an envelope enclosed with a note that read: “We advise you to stay away from that bridge, it could be dangerous for you.”
Although it was signed from the “people of Basra,” Karim knew otherwise.
Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a conservative Shiite militia former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki tasked in 2008 to coun countering another Shiite militia, Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, still maintains a heavy presence in Basra, the Post reported.
In November, on Ashura, a day of commemoration marking the death of one Shiite Islam’s most prominent figures, Karim received a call warning of a problem at the bridge. He then arrived to find masked gunmen throwing his wire grids loaded with people’s locks into the water.
Despite the death threats, and the masked gunmen, Karim plans to put wire mesh back up and re-launch the project in time for this year’s Valentine’s Day.
“We need to deliver the message that even with this current situation in Iraq, there is love, there is kindness,” he told the Post.
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