'This Is Democracy' Say Delighted Iraqis
Quotes from voters and observers on the Iraqi National Assembly elections :
This is democracy,” said Fathiya Mohammed, an elderly woman who voted in the small town of Askan south of Baghdad. “This is the first day I feel freedom.”
“I came here to vote for our goal, which is freedom, and this is the first step toward democracy,” said Shiite voter Abu Ahmed, 55, in Baqouba.
“We are feeling happiness today to be able to participate in a day like this after all these years. Now I can choose representatives for the Kurdish people, and you know what the situation was like for the Kurds in the past. Today the Kurds are happy,” said voter Anwar Nader in the northern city of Kirkuk.
“This is our real Eid (Islamic feast), it is even a greater day,” said Laith Ahmed as he entered a school in the Shiite city of Karbala.
“So far so good when you consider it’s the first time,” said Majid Lazem Fartousi, one of 159 Democratic Iraqi Movement candidates, at Baghdad’s middle-class Karada district. “There will be some isolated attacks here and there, but they will not stop the voting.”
“As you can see, we broke a barrier of fear,” said electoral commission official Mijm Towirish.
“I’m here because my conscience dictates that I should participate,” Hussein Abbas, 63, a father of eight.
“I don’t have a job. I hope the new government will give me a job,” said Rashi Ayash, 50, a former Iraqi army lieutenant colonel. “I voted for the rule of law.”
“I can’t read or write so I ticked the number” of the Kurdish ticket, said Fouad Fattah, 29, Kurdish policeman in Irbil. “I was afraid to make a mistake. I hope the Kurds get a great number of votes so that we can rule ourselves.”
“I am for elections. The killings and destruction today are against the interest of the Iraqi people, especially on the day that the Iraqis are deciding their political future,” said Sheikh Hussein al-Budeiri, 48, from Babil province, south of Baghdad.
“This is a chance for you as Iraqis to assure your and your children’s future,” Gov. Hamad Hmoud Shagti, said in a radio address in the mostly Sunni province of Salaheddin.
“These elections should have been delayed until the situation in Iraq calmed down,” said Bahraini lawyer Aisha Jaffer. “The Iraqi people have suffered so much and they are constantly being tested.”
“The elections are being held under an American occupation with a never-ending, open appetite based on an imperial strategy that aims for hegemony over the region and the world, starting from Iraq,” the Sharjah-based Al-Khaleej daily said in an editorial.
“The irony is the Arab regimes, who criticise the gaps in the (Iraqi) elections and demand they be honest and transparent leading to full democracy for all Iraqis, are themselves banning such elections for their own peoples,” said Lebanon’s Al-Anwar political analyst Rafik Khoury.