Initial reactions to the news of Saddam Hussein’s execution were largely celebratory in Iraq. In the holy Shi’ite city of Najaf some 180 kilometres south of Baghdad, people took to the streets, cheering and chanting. Many brandished photos of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the highest religious authority for Shi’ites. “Saddam Hussein’s execution is a joy for the Iraqi people,” said one man. “We were oppressed for 35 years. Thanks to God, we have got rid of him.”
In the southern city of Basra, also predominantly Shi’ite, there were celebrations too. But in Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit in the north, a four-day curfew has been imposed. His family is demanding he be buried there next to his two sons.