Identification problems in Iraqi civil war and the holocaust
. . . .with sectarian violence surging, Iraqis fear that the name on an identification card, passport or other document could become an instant death sentence if seen by the wrong people.
That is because some first names and tribal names indicate whether a person is Sunni or Shiite. A first name of Omar is popular among Sunnis, for example, as is Ali among Shiites.
Stories abound of Iraqi civilians being stopped at checkpoints by militiamen, insurgents or uniformed men and having their identification cards scrutinized. They are then taken away or executed on the spot if they have a suspect name or a hometown dominated by the rival sect. In Baghdad, Shiite death squads — sometimes in police uniform — operate many of the illegal checkpoints, Iraqi and American officials say.
. . . . .Forgers of identification cards say business is booming . . . .The growing number of people seeking to change or hide their names is just one consequence of the enormous fear that Iraqis now have of revealing their sect . . . . .
There is no way to physically tell Sunni Arabs from Shiite Arabs, so militiamen and insurgents are increasingly killing people based on small, telltale signs — whether the owner of a car or a house has posters or stickers of Shiite martyrs, for instance, or whether a driver has a car with a license plate from a Sunni-dominated province.
I wonder why Jews in Nazi Europe did not make greater efforts to conceal their Jewish identities. I have seen pictures of Nazis murdering orthodox Jews who were wearing traditional garb.
It has been argued that the Nazis concealed their intentions until it was too late for Jews to escape, but a lot of Jews saw what was coming and tried to get out of Europe.
Maybe all the Iraqis need in order to solve their identification problems are a few IBM Hollerith machines like the kind that the book "IBM and the Holocaust" says the Nazis used to identify all the Jews of Europe.