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12/20/03 - THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ REJOICE - 2003-12-22

The capture of Saddam Hussein has been greeted with rejoicing by the Iraqi people. Iraqis no longer have to hold back their feelings about living in a free society for fear that the dictator will return. He won’t. And much of what Iraqis are saying is being documented in the world media.

“This nightmare is gone once and for all,” said Hoshyar Zebari, serving as Iraq’s Foreign Minister. “Celebrations are taking place throughout the country from the north to the south. It is a great day,” said Mr. Zebari. “We are celebrating like it’s a wedding,” said Mustapha Sheriff of Tikrit. ‘We are finally rid of that criminal.” Ali Mohammed of Kirkuk said, “Divine justice has prevailed.” And Said Jassim al-Yasseri, the imam of a Shiite mosque in Iraq, said, “It will be the start for peace. This is a new day for the country. Saddam should at least get the death penalty.”

Ultimately, Saddam Hussein’s punishment will be determined by the Iraqi people. As President George W. Bush said, “There needs to be a public trial and all of the atrocities need to come out and justice needs to be delivered”:

“The Iraqis need to be very much involved.... They were the people who were brutalized by this man. He murdered them. He gassed them. He tortured them. He had rape rooms. And they need to be very much involved in this process. And we’ll work with the Iraqis to develop a process. And of course we want it to be fair.... I’ve got my own personal views of how he ought to be treated, but I’m not an Iraqi citizen. It’s going to be up to the Iraqis to make those decisions.”

Iraqis can now focus on the task of creating a self-governing nation. With the capture of Saddam Hussein, said President Bush, “the enemies of a free Iraq have lost their leader, and they’ve lost any hope of regaining power. The nightmare of the Baathist tyranny is finally over.”

As Riadh Muslih, editor of Al Sharouq, an English-Arabic newspaper published in Vancouver, Canada, put it, “A brutal dictator has been consigned to the dustbin of history.”