12/30/2006, 00.00
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Saddam: no tears but few hopes for peace among Iraqis

The Iraqi church did not comment about the execution of the former ruler, preferring to urge the world once again to “pray for the country, so sorely tired”. Iraqis abroad were waiting for the televised execution but they fear “certain revenge from the supporters of a president who was always seen as a god”.

Rome (AsiaNews) – “Continue to pray for peace across the world and today especially in Iraq.” This is the call of the auxiliary bishop of the Chaldeans in Baghdad, Mgr Shlemon Warduni, a few hours after the capital execution of Saddam Hussein. Beyond the political repercussions of this death, the bishop took care to stress that what matters most to the Church at this time is “necessary respect for the human person, as God created him”. Mgr Warduni once again urged “the world to pray for the common good but especially that of Iraq that is so sorely tried today.”


The fear that the hanging of the ex-ruler will bring “nothing good for the country” is widespread among Iraqi Christians in Europe too. They are convinced that even if this does not come about immediately, “sooner or later Saddam’s death will be avenged”. AsiaNews spoke to Iraqis in Holland, Italy and Sweden who said that today they saw “another page of violence” starting in Iraq. The Christian diaspora fully backs the position expressed today by the director of the Vatican press office who described the hanging of Saddam as “tragic news”. Fr Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that “every capital execution is a reason for sadness even when it involves a person who has been convicted of serious crimes”. And ultimately, “the killing of the perpetrator is not the way to rebuild justice and to reconcile society. Rather the opposite, there is the danger that the spirit of revenge will be fuelled and new violence will be sown.” Fr Lombardi said he hoped that “in this dark period of the life of the Iraqi people, all leaders will truly make every effort so that small seeds of hope of reconciliation and peace may be born.”


A woman from Amsterdam recalled how ruthless the dictator was, saying that “on his first day in office he ordered the death penalty for 25 people”. But while not forgetting the sins of Saddam, the Iraqi community overseas believes that the decision to kill him “will not bring peace to Iraq”.


The Iraqi community in the United States – mostly made up of Christians and Shiites – shares the same view. From Phoenix, many said they were glued to their television or computer screens waiting for the hanging of the man who had brought about “a story of destruction for the country”. But there is also anger, because Saddam “did not account for all the other crimes committed, not least against Assyrians and Kurds” and there is also the fear that his killing will turn the man into a martyr in the eyes of his supporters. A Shiite man said: “These people continued to look upon the ex-president as a god, now they have killed their god and they will want revenge.” Sources of AsiaNews said: “The greatest fear is that if it ever transpires, revenge will make no distinction between the people and the government and will strike indiscriminately at authorities and innocent civilians.”

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