BAGHDAD — Mohammad al-Ani knows Donald Trump. He’s been watching men like him rise in Iraq for years. They’re the kind of guys who thunder on about outsiders causing all of Iraq’s troubles. They condemn foreigners, or, more subtly, those of another religion, sect, or ethnicity. They whip up public frenzies to target the weak and consolidate power.
“If you want to be president you have to balance all the religions inside your country,” Ani, the 21-year-old engineering student, said. He was spending his Friday morning earning a little extra cash selling books at Baghdad’s Mutannabi Street book market, a relative oasis of cosmopolitanism in a city, country, and region torn apart by conflicts rooted in political, religious, and ethnic differences.
“Look what happened in Iraq,” he said. “It’s what happens when you don’t respect people of other sects.”