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9th April

Remembering that day when Saddam’s statue was pulled down, it was a surreal day jammed with different emotions, memories and much more. Television broadcast was only received from Al-Alam channel from Iran. We received it on generator-powered televisions connected to home-made antennas that were made extra long to receive this channel. You can recognise them on roof tops in Baghdad because they were very long with a pot cover attached to them mimicking small satellite dishes at the time when satellite reception was banned during Saddam’s regime.

Happiness was the dominant feeling that day. But we, Iraqis, know it in our hearts how happiness does not seem to like us. Pulling the statue did not mean everything when Saddam was still not captured. Fear and worry flavoured this happiness amidst questions like “What will happen next? Will the Americans leave now? Will Iraq now be prosperous like Dubai? Or destroyed like Palestine? Who will rule Iraq now?” and the questions went on and on.

Despite all the different meanings of this day, it is in essence a day when Iraqis felt safe to express their rejection to Saddam. The calculus of injustice, oppression, poverty and sadness was transformed to raging men and women hitting the statue with their shoes and slippers. Once, this statue was erected to embody authority, and pulling it down expresses disapproval by the people for this authority. Throughout history, no statue of an unjust leader was immune from this reaction.

Let’s hope the leaders of today remind themselves of this lesson for the sake of a better tomorrow.

Iraqis chanted as they helped put a noose around the neck of a statue of Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003 in Baghdad. (Photo: James Hill for The New York Times)

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