The news of the Saddam verdict brought people out into the streets to celebrate. Quiet satisfaction gave way to less restrained demonstrations of joy, with people firing weapons in the air. “The hanging of Saddam, the death of a criminal represents a victory for us, and for our martyred town”, said one Shi’ite man. “I am really happy because every family here has victims to mourn. Saddam should have been found guilty 10 times over”, said another.
In the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, a hotbed of radical Shi’ism and stronghold of clerical leader Moqtada Sadr, there were similar scenes. For years Saddam packed Baghdad’s Shias into this grim slum of a million people. Today they may feel some of the weight has slid from their shoulders.
However in areas where there is a Sunni majority it is a very different story. News of the verdict was greeted with dismay, and anger, as in Tikrit, near Saddam’s home village, where he remains a much-loved son and hero. “All of us want Saddam Hussein. we really love you and miss you”, said a masked demonstrator. It seems the sentence has at last drawn a line under the Saddam era, but that era will mean many different things to different Iraqis.