Wednesday, April 9, 2003
From Anthony Shadid's powerful report from Baghdad today:
At that moment, someone down the street called out that the Americans had arrived. The curious and the jubilant ran down the road. As they gathered, a line of tanks and armor paraded down Saadoun Street, toward a statue of Hussein in Firdaus Square. An Iraqi exile working with the Americans shouted from a microphone, "We're bringing freedom for everyone, we're making a free Iraq."
Crowds that lined the streets erupted in cheers. Women ululated, a cry of joy in the Arab world. One man asked if a soldier could be found to marry his daughter. Others threw candy, cigarettes and flowers at the soldiers atop vehicles flying the U.S. flag. When they stopped, many ran to the soldiers to shout hello, to shake their hands and, for a few, to kiss them on the cheek.
"Did the war end?" asked Kamel Hamid, as he stood on the road. "Is it over?"
"It is a liberation," shouted Abbas Ali, holding his daughter's hand.
Others, more reserved, held back from the curb. Some uttered words of caution or rebuke: the Americans wanted Iraq's oil, that war was not the answer, that U.S. troops were here to stay.
"This is my country and this is an occupation," said Stefan Abu George, a 59-year-old standing along the street. "I can't imagine what the result of this is going to be." A friend, Wathiq Abzara, answered, "Like Palestine."
Down the road, Mazin Hussein, a doctor at Ibn Haitham Hospital, and a friend, Saad al-Kaabi, gingerly approached a U.S. tank, with the words "Love Machine" scrawled on its side. Over the roar of its engines, they asked the soldiers to take down the American flag. They could not be heard and, after a few minutes, they gave up.
Another resident told Shadid: "I want to feel that I'm a human being, I want to feel that I'm free and that no one can take it away," he said. "I want to work, so that my family has enough to live. I want to live like everyone else in this world who lives in peace." Amen.
Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 9 April 2003 at 7:23 PM