Wednesday, October 19, 2005

BREITBART.COM - Iraqis Riveted by Televised Saddam Trial

BREITBART.COM - Just The News - Iraqis Riveted by Televised Saddam Trial: "

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA and OMAR SINAN
Associated Press Writers

BAGHDAD, Iraq

The moment Saddam Hussein appeared, a Shiite housewife spat on the screen and then sat gnawing her fingers, seething, as her family crowded around the television. When the judge addressed the ousted dictator as 'Mr. Saddam,' she burst: 'The beast Saddam, you mean!'

Across the Tigris River in the mostly Sunni Arab district of Azamiyah, some Iraqis were also riveted to their sets. Namir Sharif, a 46-year- old former army officer, was on the verge of tears of pride as a defiant Saddam argued with the judge.

'He turned the trial upside down, this is a heroic act,' Sharif said.

Some Iraqis watched with visceral hatred or fear, some with joy, others with bitterness or even nostalgia. But above all they watched enthralled, unable to remove their eyes from the image of their once all-powerful leader reduced to a defendant on trial Wednesday.

Nowhere was the contrast in reaction more stark than between Azamiyah and the Shiite district of Kazimiyah, just on the other side of the river.

One thing united them: Baghdad's fragile power grid, always rickety but even worse since a major insurgent attack Friday knocked out almost the entire system. Workers were still trying to get it back up to speed, and power blinked in and out several times in the two neighborhoods while the trial was being televised.

Shiite housewife Sabiha Hassan's entire family leaped up and rushed to their private generator when the screen went dead half an hour into the trial. 'Thank God, I brought extra fuel today just for the occasion,' said her husband, Salman Zaboun Shanan, as he filled the generator's tank.

Otherwise, the couple and their two sons didn't move from the concrete floor where they sat within a yard of the screen for the length of the three-hour session. Shanan, a construction worker, stayed home from work to watch. One son, Hadi, a cleric, missed a seminary exam.

Hassan's brother was executed by Saddam's regime, and she, her husband and five of their sons spent time in Saddam's prisons. They kept up a running commentary on the trial. 'May God break his legs to pieces,' Hassan, in a black robe and veil, said when Saddam stood at one point.

'Iraq's soil has its pride. It won't accept Saddam's body once they execute him. I hope they throw his body to the dogs, not bury it,' said Shanan, slapping his fist into his palm nervously."

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