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Shiite and Sunni, young and old: an Iraqi family's journey to the ballot box

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Inam, then stylishly draped in an embroidered black robe and head scarf, says she is voting for a ticket known as 555, a coalition of religious Shiites closer in outlook to Tehran than Washington. Inam's mother, Basma, meanwhile, is a Sunni who is crossing sectarian lines to vote for Mr. Allawi, the former prime minister who is seen as tough on terrorism.

"We hate war!" Basma bellows with a loudness that, along with her age, leaves the family rapt. "We've lived through 30 years of it, with all its violence, and we've had enough," says the white-veiled matriarch. Basma came to vote here instead of in her neighborhood of ad-Dora, in the south of Baghdad. Because of violence she was reluctant to vote there.

"Bringing security to Iraq is the most important thing," she says. "I can't go out anymore without risking my life."

They are a family who, like most Iraqis, has known its share of loss. Mr. Hussein arrested one of Basma's brothers in the 1980s - they eventually got his body back for burial. Her recompense, she says, will be seeing Hussein's demise, not the rise of a government which might put divisive, sectarian interests first.

"Everyone has the right to choose," Inam shrugs and smiles, politely disagreeing with her mother's choice. The diversity of their opinions, the mixed nature of the family, and their willingness to place faith in candidates not necessarily considered "one of ours" point to the emergence of a rather discriminating Iraq voter.

Were stereotypes solid, Basma, a pious Sunni, would vote for the coalition of Sunni religious parties. But particularly among the educated upper middle class, it is not uncommon to find Sunnis voting for Shiites and Shiites for Sunnis - a sign that many Iraqis are hoping for more than just a chance to enhance parochial interests.

The Amaris live a life that they say could not tolerate a descent into balkanization. Shiites who have sometimes married Sunnis, they also have a few relatives who are married to Kurds.

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