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Four Years After Saddam Statue Fall, Iraq Still in Chaos
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Four years after a statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad's Firdous Square, Iraqis are still living in chaos where they have to bear daily bombings and sectarian violence as well as decapitated or tortured bodies. 

Layla al-Saigh, a housewife in her thirties, told Xinhua on Sunday that "I was happy when I saw the fall of Saddam statue four years ago, but now I realized it was the start of security deterioration."

On April 9, 2003, the US forces broke into central Baghdad and pulled down a large statue of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in Firdous Square who was executed last December, raising hopes for many Iraqis that it would bring a bright future for them.

Four years after the toppling of the statue, Iraqi people were disappointed as their hopes have become castle in the air.

Abu Samir, a 50-year-old teacher in Baghdad, said he was happy when Saddam's statue was toppled but now he was filled with nothing but regret.

"At that moment, I saw the statue as a symbol of dictatorship and tyranny. Now I want to say the Americans and those who came with them are much worse than Saddam," Samir said.
Firdous Square is no longer a symbol for dictator of Iraq. It is now nothing but a square surrounded by police and army checkpoints, said Muhammad Dafir who was working in the nearby Sheraton Hotel.

Instead of the statue, a monument symbolizing freedom was set up. But Dafir said most of Baghdad residents know nothing about its meaning except for some American soldiers who come to take pictures.

"I am really disappointed because I know there is no freedom without security," he added.

A 24-hour vehicle curfew will be imposed on Baghdad on Monday at 5 AM (01:00 GMT), the fourth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, to avoid violence and attacks in the capital which witnesses persistent violence despite the presence of tens of thousands of US and Iraqi soldiers in a major security crackdown.

On Sunday, thousands of Iraqis swarmed to the holy city of Najaf for a big demonstration against the US presence in Iraq on Monday that was called by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Salam al-Ani, 60, a lawyer, said that "Iraqis are much more eager for security and stability than ever", complaining that there is no water, no electricity, no jobs and no future in Iraq.

"From the beginning, I realized that those celebrated the occupation will not enjoy their happiness for ever, because I know the US promise of building a new Iraq was only illusion and even a deception which some Iraqis believed," he added.

More and more Iraqis choose to flee the violence-plagued country amid miserable living condition and deteriorating security situation.

About 2 million Iraqis have left Iraq to nearby Arab countries and Europe since the bombing of the revered Shiite Askariya mosque in the town of Samarra in February 2006, sparking a wave a sectarian bloodshed that engulfed the country.

Um Ali, a school teacher who is preparing to join her husband in neighboring Syria, said four years ago Iraqis abroad were waiting for the toppling of Saddam statue in a bid to return home as soon as possible, but more Iraqis were forced to leave now.

"I am leaving Iraq and will stay in Syria for a while. I will be back when Iraq regains peace no matter how many years it will take," she said with tears in her eyes.

"We are surrounded with violence and sectarian division. We lost our hope for peaceful future," she said, describing the life in the mixed Baiyaa neighborhood in southern Baghdad.

Unlike Ali, some Iraqis believe that the fall of Saddam's statue was the beginning of a long way of building democracy in Iraq.

"Despite the hardships we are living today after four years of the fall of Saddam regime, I feel grateful for the Americans who helped us to get rid of the dictatorship which ruled Iraq brutally for 35 years," said Haider Saadoun, a college student.

"I still hope with the future and I believe that building a free nation is a hard task and need sacrifices," the 23-year-old youth said.

(Xinhua News Agency April 9, 2007)

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