Point of view: A freedom quilt

The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime last month meant religious freedom for Iraqis. Sadr City, previously known as Saddam City, is one of the strongholds of the Muslim Shiite faithful in Baghdad. The Hekmar Mosque there is the focal point for worshipers.

On April 18, the second Friday after the fall of the city, men flooded into the dusty streets chanting, clapping, and singing as they converged for prayers. I knew the crowd was large, but I didn't realize the scale of the turnout until I was able to get to an elevated vantage point. I climbed to a rooftop that had a sweeping view and saw this scene: A street filled with praying men. It was an impressive display, a historic one. It was the largest prayer gathering in Baghdad in nearly five years. The spectacle of these men bowing in prayer reminded me of a massive quilt, the different colors of their clothes creating a mosaic of color. Photographing this event was one of the highlights of my recent travels in Iraq, because I was documenting one of the first expressions of newfound freedom.

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