Here's one new freedom no one thought about when Saddam Hussein fell: the freedom to paint your house whatever color you want. But years after the end of the old regime—and its state-mandated color code—there has been an explosion of tackiness in Baghdad. “It’s something to feel ashamed of,” says Qasim Sabti, one of Iraq’s most famous artists. “It is the ugliest the city has ever been.” It's a trend affecting government buildings as well, as officials hire cheap and inept contractors and pocket the difference. The trade ministry has been done up in pink, orange, and yellow, while blast walls and checkpoints have been painted hot pink. The central bank has been painted in bright red candy cane stripes. “We don’t have a strong enough deterrent to stop it,” said Najem al-Kinany, an official who last year formed a public taste committee after receiving a flood of complaints.
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