- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2005

BAGHDAD — Quietly, in their ones and twos, the professional classes of Baghdad are slipping out of the country to avoid become another fatal statistic.

Iraq is losing the educated elite of doctors, lawyers, academics and businessmen who are vital to securing a stable future. There is also fear that their departure will leave a vacuum to be filled by religious extremists.

Outside the shelter of the green zone, home to the American and Iraqi political leadership, lawlessness has overtaken the capital.

Professor Abdul Sattar Jawad, the head of English literature at Baghdad University, will leave next month to take up a post in Jordan. Two of his colleagues left after being intimidated.

Few come to the United States, which is reluctant to issue visas.

At the door to his home in Baghdad, the professor greeted the Daily Telegraph with an outstretched hand. In the other, he carried a loaded revolver “because I don’t trust anybody nowadays.”

Although the lack of basic needs and a barely functioning infrastructure are considerable hardships, it is the daily threat of death that is the catalyst for his decision.

Since the new government came to power in April, up to 3,000 civilians have been killed. About half of those deaths are attributed to criminal activity.

“I love my country, but I am unable to do any service for the people because it is overrun by fanatics and extremists,” Mr. Jawad said. “The streets are ruled by gangs, looters and goons.”

Last month, he resigned as dean of arts after “religious animals” surrounded his office and shouted “warlike slogans.”

The threats also have forced him to close down two English newspapers he ran because “it now is anti-religious to have free speech, liberal minds and civilization in this country.”

Mr. Jawad’s wife, Sarah, a former teacher, said she now wears a head scarf to avoid being harassed by religious extremists.

For his son Omar Jawad, a 30-year-old lawyer working for a British company in the green zone, the one ambition is to leave Iraq “as quickly as possible, as soon as I find somewhere to go.”

Aside from the daily risk of kidnapping, suicide bombers and drive-by shootings, his half-hour journey into work is now a two-hour slog through roadblocks.

There are no land-line telephones, water has to be pumped from a well and there are only two hours of electricity a day compared with 21 hours under Saddam Hussein. In a country that perches on a lake of oil, the lines at gas stations last up to four hours.

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