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3/21/03 - IRAQ'S VOICES OF FREEDOM - 2003-03-24

For thousands of Iraqi exiles, the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq is the fulfillment of a long-awaited hope. Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini [sah-yed moo-stah-fah ahl-Kwah-zen-ee] was a child when he and his family fled the Iraqi secret police in 1968. Al-Qazwini now leads the Islamic Education Center in Orange County, California. He looks forward to an Iraq free of tyranny. He said, "I have hope for a new Iraq, an Iraq based on respect for human rights and democracy."

Exiled Iraqi journalist Ahmad Al-Rikaby [ah-mahd ahl-RICK-ah-bee] said that an end to Saddam Hussein means an Iraq "where you can travel, write, and express your opinion about the government or any other subject." He looks forward to interviewing the president of a free Iraq. He said, "I see the press as the guardian of democracy."

An Iraq without Saddam Hussein means freedom of religion to Sayed Abdul Majid Al-Khoei [sah-yed ahb-dool mah-jeed ahl-KHOE-ee], a devout Muslim. He says, "Saddam [Hussein] has misused and abused the Quranic texts. . . . He has attacked Arabs, Kurds, Sunni, Shia, Turkmen and others. . . . Saddam [Hussein] does not believe in any religion." Al-Khoei said that "Iraqis again should be free to follow their faith."

Safia Taleb Al-Souhail [sah-FEE-ah tahl-eb ahl-soo-hale] said women have suffered terribly under the Saddam Hussein regime. "The Iraqi regime has employees whose job it is to rape women," she said. Rape is only one of many forms of terror experienced by Iraqi women. Al-Souhail recalls the murder of her father, a democratic opposition leader, by an Iraqi agent in Beirut in 1994. She says it is time for Iraqi women and men to be free from fear.

Sadiq Al-Mossawi [sah-deek ahl-moo-sah-wee] was a target of Saddam Hussein's murder squads. He survived. "Now I want to return," he said, "not armed to shoot anyone but rather with pen in hand to reach out to the Iraqi minds and teach them." Iraq is blessed with many other such men and women of goodwill. Together, and with the help of the U.S. and its coalition allies, they can build a free, democratic, and prosperous Iraq.