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Toy Guns Becoming Taboo in Iraq

Almost all young boys have had a toy gun to play with, and even if they did not a stick of wood or some other object would certainly achieve the same objective. But in Iraq, many parents are taking such toys away from their children out of fear it might be mistaken for a real weapon.

The school day is over for these excited elementary students in Baghdad, and now they are looking forward to going home and playing games with their friends.

For centuries, young boys have often played such games as cops and robbers, good guys-bad guys, and war games, just to name a few. Of course, these games usually involve the use of toy guns.

But for many Iraqi children, toy guns have become a thing of the past.

Eleven-year-old Hussein Rashid says he does not play with toy guns anymore because he is afraid he might get into the same kind of trouble as one of his friends.

The young boy says one day his friends pointed a toy gun at some American soldiers. He says the soldiers chased the boy to his house. Once there, he says the father of the boy became very angry and destroyed the toy gun immediately.

The parents of many young boys have taken away their toy guns. The mother of three young boys, Nada Nouri, is one those parents.

Ms. Nouri says young boys may enjoy toy guns, but she says the situation in Iraq is different these days. She says American troops might shoot anyone who is holding what appears to be a weapon. So, she says parents are preventing their children from playing with toy guns, even in their own homes.

But that is not to say all young Iraqi boys are putting away their toy guns. Elementary school principal Mona Allwan Assain says she has a drawer full of toy guns she confiscated from students.

Ms. Assain says one day a soldier came into her office and noticed all the toy guns in her drawer. She says she told him they were not real. To demonstrate, she says she broke one of the guns to show the soldier he had nothing to be afraid of. She says it is unfortunate that all of Iraq has become like a war game, but with real bullets and bombs.

For the youngsters who said they still play war games, many said they take turns being Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi police, American soldiers, and even resistance fighters.