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5/3/03 - IRAQ'S BRIGHT FUTURE - 2003-05-05

The U.S.-led coalition is now working with the people of Iraq to plant the seeds of democracy -- seeds that Iraqis hope will thrive in the rubble of Saddam Hussein's reign of terror.

President George W. Bush has a vision of Iraq as a liberated, democratic Islamic nation at peace with its neighbors -- an Iraq free of repression and free of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Bush recently met with Iraqi-Americans who share that vision -- people who know first-hand the cruelties of the Saddam Hussein regime -- people, said Mr. Bush, who believe deeply in the promise of a new Iraq. People like Najda Egaily, a Sunni Muslim from Basra who moved to the United States five years ago:

"Najda learned the price of dissent in Iraq in 1988, when her brother-in-law was killed after laughing at a joke about Saddam Hussein in a house that was bugged. In Iraq, Najda says, we could never speak to anyone about Saddam Hussein -- we had to make sure the windows were closed. The windows are now open in Iraq."

Najda and her friends will never forget the images of liberation in Baghdad. Neither, said President Bush, will Tariq Daoud, a Roman Catholic from Basra who now lives in Michigan:

"When the dictator regime fell, here's what Tariq said, he said: 'I am more hopeful today than I've been since 1958. We need to take the little children in Iraq and hold their hands and really teach them what freedom is all about.' He says the new generation could really make democracy work."

These Iraqi-Americans are right to be optimistic. As President Bush said, "From the beginning of this conflict we have seen brave Iraqi citizens taking part in their own liberation." Iraqis are working closely with the coalition to restore order and improve life. The work will take time, but the Iraqi people will be free.