Baghdad goes bonkers for bicycles

Published May 2nd, 2017 - 10:24 GMT
Young people cycle along the banks of the Tigris on Monday (Facebook)
Young people cycle along the banks of the Tigris on Monday (Facebook)

I spy with my little eye something beginning with “b” in Baghdad...

Bombs? Blockade? (River)banks? Bush (George W., interfering where he wasn't wanted)?

No, bicycles of course!

The Iraqi capital might only be beginning to emerge from decades of conflict, but a new craze for cycling is already taking the city by storm.

On Monday, scores of young Iraqis took to the streets on their push-bikes for a “Bicycle Festival”.

 

The festival saw men, women and children grinning from ear-to-ear as they cycled along the gardens of upmarket Abu Nawas street in central Baghdad.

Photos of the Baghdad Festival of Bicycle Life which was held today on the streets of Abu Nuwas Gardens with the participation of a large number of young men and women. In spite of the circumstances, Baghdad loves life!

But this latest festival is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the cycle-mania taking over between the Tigris and the Euphrates.

Last year, a young Iraqi woman stirred debate online after she was photographed cycling through the streets of the city.

Defying conservative social norms, Marina J Rada then went on to organize Baghdad’s first mixed-gender gathering of young cyclists in December.

Photos of wide participation in the initiative of #IAmSociety, launched by the our friend Marina on Monday at Abu Nuwas Street in Baghdad.

Among young people online, the response to the growing trend for mixed cycling has been overwhelmingly positive.

I am pleased when I see something new to make Iraqis happy.

A festival of culture and sport at the same time. Great!

Still, outside of the capital, liberal Iraqis face an uphill battle against religious conservatism. Wedged between the forces of Daesh in Mosul and the increasingly tight grip of ultra conservative militias, Iraq’s cycling, gender-mixing, open-minded youth still have a long fight ahead of them.

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