Hostage taking and beheadings are bringing strong reactions from the Iraqi people. These actions “are not legitimate in Islamic law,” says Riyadh Hussein, a religious leader in Baghdad.
And Ali Hashim, a shoe salesman in Baghdad, says, “Hostage-taking, beheading...it’s not our tradition. We have a tradition of hospitality. This,” says Mr. Hashim, “hurts the image of the Iraqi people.”
President George W. Bush says that the terrorists in Iraq “are attempting to undermine and intimidate a free government”:
“The terrorists are ruthless and resourceful. They will not prevail. Already half of the world’s Muslims live under democratically-constituted governments -- from Indonesia to West Africa, from Europe to North America. And the ideal of democracy is also powerful and popular in the Middle East. Surveys in Arab nations reveal broad support for representative government and individual liberty. We’re seeing reform in Kuwait and Qatar, Bahrain and Yemen, Jordan and Morocco."
Leaders throughout the Middle East, says Mr. Bush, “must recognize the direction of the events of the day”:
“Any nation that compromises with violent extremists only emboldens them, and invites future violence.... Some types of hatred will never be appeased. They must be opposed and discredited and defeated by a hopeful alternative -- and that alternative is freedom.”
Iraq’s interim government is now in charge of the country. “The Iraqi people are making steady progress toward a free society,” says President Bush. And the U.S.-led coalition “will not let thugs and killers stand in the way of democracy in Iraq.”