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Muslim shrines bear witness to Iraq’s Jews

60 years ago nearly all the Jewish community left Iraq, but not without leaving behind traces of their culture.

In the little town of Kifl, south of Baghdad, the shrine of Ezekiel — the prophet who followed the Jews into Babylonian exile in the 6th century BC — has long been a part of Iraq’s millennia-old religious mosaic.

A 14th-century brick minaret tilts outside the entrance to the shrine, but inside the mosque is shaped like a synagogue, with old wooden cabinets that used to hold Torah scrolls and balustrades that once separated men and women.

Inside the shrine, block-like Hebrew script runs along the old stone walls beneath a Turkish-style dome with medieval Islamic floral designs.

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