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Arabs Show Strong Feelings About Iraq - 2003-04-10


Reaction is pouring in from Arabs and Muslims around the world to the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime. VOA-TV’s Chris Simkins has more on the story.

While some of these Iraqi citizens of Baghdad welcomed U.S. troops, overall reaction from the Arab World to the collapsing regime of Saddam Hussein is decidedly mixed. In Arab countries people watched scenes from Baghdad as Saddam Hussein’s statue was being toppled.

The Arab Satellite television network Al Jazeera told viewers they were witnessing what it called a turning point in Iraq’s history. The report went on to say that everything that happens now in Iraq will have an American flavor and smell. In Lebanon, the coverage focused only on civilian casualties of the war.

There was shock and disappointment in this café in Amman, Jordan. Most of the people here support Saddam, seeing the Iraqi leader as a symbol of Arab defiance.

UNIDENTIFIED JORDANIAN MAN
“What I feel, I feel humiliated.”

As these editors prepared stories for Arab newspapers the focus was on the difference between liberation and occupation.

MAHER OTHMAN, EDITOR AL HAYAT NEWSPAPER
“Many, many Iraqis are happy that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power because he was a brutal dictator, but the majority of Arabs on the other hand, consider that a major Arab country is being occupied by the American forces, illegally.

The feelings were different for these Iraqi exiles in London. They celebrated in front of the former Iraqi Embassy and talked of going home.

IRAQI MAN
“I am very happy because I leave my country. I was 15 years old. I didn’t see my family and my brother and my mother for 23 years.”

In Israel, many Palestinians expressed shock. In the West Bank city of Ramallah many Palestinians who have sided with Iraq say they fear that after the war is over, their support for Saddam will somehow come back to haunt them.

In the United States there were celebrations in the streets of Dearborn, Michigan, where there is a large Arab-American population. Hundreds welcomed news of Saddam Hussein’s government falling. In this Arab community like others around the world, many know the war with Iraq is not yet over and they wonder what will happen next.

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