The World Reacts to Saddam's Death

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Predictably, reaction by some Iraqis to Saddam Hussein's execution is breaking along sectarian lines.

People in the Sunni-dominated Iraqi city of Tikrit are lamenting the death of the former leader.

A cleric at a Tikrit mosque calls Saddam "a martyr." He says Saddam "died the death of a holy warrior" and his supporters shouldn't be sad. Tikrit was a power base of the former Iraqi leader.

But there is dancing in the streets in Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City. Some people fired guns in the air to celebrate the former dictator's death.

The government did not impose a round-the-clock curfew as it did last month to prevent a surge of retaliatory violence when Saddam was convicted.

Vatican Reaction

A Vatican spokesman calls Saddam Hussein's execution "tragic" and worries it will trigger more violence.

The Reverend Federico Lombardi commented on Vatican Radio's French-language news program. He says executing Saddam "is not a way to reconstruct justice" in Iraqi society. And he says it "might fuel the spirit of revenge."

Lombardi expressed the hope that leaders "do everything possible" so that "from this dramatic situation ways might open to reconciliation and peace."

Other Countries' Reactions

Reaction to Saddam Hussein's execution is pouring in from around the world.

Iran praised the execution, calling Saddam the "enforcer of the most horrendous crimes against humanity." Many Iranians say Saddam should have been tried for invading Iran and Kuwait before being hanged.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett says Iraq still faces huge challenges but Saddam "has been held to account for at least some of the appalling crimes he committed."

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai appeared to criticize the timing of the execution, but said it was "the work of the Iraqi government" and would have "no effect" on Afghanistan.

The hanging took place near the beginning of the festival of Eid al-Adha, one of the two most important holidays in Islam.

Saddam's Defense Reaction

Saddam Hussein's legal defense team says he was "fearless, honest and clear-minded" in his final moments.

The lawyers based in Amman, Jordan, released a statement saying Saddam "fell a martyr." In the aftermath of Saddam's death, the lawyers vow to continue their legal struggle until "all dimensions of this political assassination are revealed."

They also say Saddam "lived honestly, died honestly and maintained his principles."

Security Ramped Up in Saddam's Hometown

Police have blocked the entrances to the Sunni-dominated city of Tikrit, which was once a power base for Saddam Hussein.

Authorities there say nobody is allowed to leave or enter the city for four days. But despite that restriction, gunmen in that city took to the streets carrying pictures of Saddam and shooting into the air while calling for vengeance on Saddam's execution.

Security forces have also set up roadblocks at another Sunni stronghold, Samarra, and a curfew had to be imposed after about 500 people there took to the streets protesting the execution of Saddam.

More than two-thousand people, many carrying weapons, demonstrated in a village south of Tikrit where Saddam was captured by US troops. He'd been hiding in an underground bunker.

Where Will the Body Go?

There are reports that a delegation, including a provincial governor and the head of Saddam Hussein's clan, has retrieved Saddam body from Baghdad and is taking it to Tikrit.

The Arab broadcaster, Al-Arabiya satellite television, says the delegation had negotiated with US and Iraqi officials to be able to bury the executed leader's body near where he was born.

Saddam was born in a village near Tikrit, about 80 miles north of Baghdad.

The report says the clan is gathering at the grand mosque in the village to await the return of Saddam's remains.

He was captured in an underground hide-out near the village in December of 2003, eight months after he fled Baghdad ahead of advancing American troops.


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