Business is very, very good....

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Back in 1982, Radhwan Mizaal Ali opened a
tiny shop offering funeral supplies. Now he runs six shops, and
business is booming.
"Whenever they beat war drums, our business flourishes more,"
Ali said as he puffed on a hookah waterpipe in one of his shops.
From coffin makers to professional mourners who weep and wail at
ceremonies, a wave of killings in Baghdad is fueling a boom in the
funeral industry.
Ali offers everything a grieving family needs for a proper
burial: chairs for the mourners, tape recorders and speakers to
transmit Quranic verses, plates for traditional foods and a
generator - all rented out for about $100 a day.
According to Muslim and Iraqi tradition, bodies should be buried
quickly, if possible on the very day of death. But tradition also
calls for three days of mourning. Families rent a tent near the
deceased's home and receive visitors.
On the final day of mourning, the deceased's family throws a big
feast, where mourners and the poor in the neighborhood can partake.
That's where Ali and other funeral suppliers come in.
And demand for their services is up. Since the bombing of a
Shiite shrine in Samarra, much of the country has been gripped by a
wave of reprisal killings by Sunni and Shiite extremists.
The United Nations says nearly 6,000 people were killed in May
and June, and the morgue in Baghdad said it received about 1,500
bodies of people who died violently last month.
With killings on the rise, coffin maker Abbas Hussein Mohammed
has opened a new shop to cope with the demand.
"Our business is booming day after day with each roadside bomb
or car bomb and with the ongoing sectarian killings," Abbas said
as he showed off his wooden coffins inside his tiny shop on
Baghdad's Haifa Street.
"During the Saddam era, we used to do one or two coffins a day
and the price ranged between $5 to $10," Mohammed said. Now he
produces an average of 10 to 15 coffins a day and charges about $50
for each of them.
Um Alaaa, 50, is a professional mourner who attends funerals to
add emotion to the ceremony. The profession is widespread in the
Middle East, but lately demand has been so great that she is
training one of her six daughters to help with the workload.
"I can't do more than three funerals a day," she said by
telephone from Baghdad's Sadr City, a Shiite stronghold, as she was
preparing to attend another funeral.
Her rate is about $50 per appearance, which she limits to Sadr
City unless clients agree to drive her to and from the services.
"Increasing demands give me the impression that this cursed
country is running out of its people," she said.