A group of Iraqis who fled the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein met recently with President George W. Bush. Participant Nadia Mirza said the group supports the U.S.-led coalition’s efforts to liberate Iraq. “The kind of government we want is a government where the people have the free choice to voice their opinion, that has complete religious freedom,” she said.
Mrs. Mirza’s parents were pressured to join the Ba’ath party under Saddam Hussein. In danger of being arrested, they fled Iraq. Family members who stayed behind continued to be interrogated about Mrs. Mirza and her family in the U.S. One of Mrs. Mirza’s cousins in Iraq disappeared when she was seventeen after voicing anti-government opinions at her school. Her whereabouts are still unknown.
Maha Hussain was also in the meeting with President Bush. She said that Iraqis are “very grateful for the generosity and the courage of the American people and especially the families of the troops”:
“We all look forward to a free democratic Iraq. Iraq is the cradle of civilization and we are looking forward to it to be the cradle of democracy, freedom, and prosperity for the Middle East.”
Mrs. Hussain attended Baghdad University medical school in the late 1970s. She was there when many fellow medical students disappeared. After graduating in 1980, she and her husband left Iraq in advance of the war with Iran. Two of her cousins who stayed behind were executed. One was killed for hiding a Kurdish friend from Saddam Hussein’s security forces. She was beaten to death, and mutilated. Her naked body was paraded through a public area.
Many Iraqis -- current residents and exiles alike -- are eager to help rebuild a free Iraq. President Bush told them that he is committed to making their return possible: “The people of Iraq have my pledge: Our fighting forces will press on until their oppressors are gone and their whole country is free.”
The day is coming when all Iraqis will be able to live safely and freely in Iraq.