In Safer Cafes, Iraqis Smoke It Up Again

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2009 7:39 PM CST
Iraqi men sit in an old tea shop April 6, 2006 in Baghdad, Iraq.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Iraqi men are hanging out in hookah cafes again, confident that government spies are no longer eavesdropping from the next sofa, the Los Angeles Times reports. Popular throughout the Mideast and hip in Western cities, shisha clubs have only recently reemerged in Iraq, thanks partly to increased security. "We have security today," said a cafe owner, "but it's not to listen."

Many Iraqis became familiar with shisha clubs by fleeing to Turkey, Egypt, and Syria, where the smoke-filled cafes are popular. They returned with a taste for tobacco scented with cinnamon, apple, and other flavors, which they can afford in Iraq's new economy. "Before, government employees made $3 a month," the cafe owner said. "They couldn't afford to come here."