Sunday, August 10, 2003


My guess is he's right.
"I can honestly say that now I'm proud to be an Iraqi," said Khalid Nemah, 45, a taxi driver who pored over Azzaman newspaper. "Because of what has happened, because there is freedom here like I have not known before. Now I can talk - to you, to people I could never talk to before. I am a simple man. I am just a worker. But even these simple things - talking - give me hope."

"I haven't had electricity, and I can't read at night," said printer Qaisi Yassin, as he sipped a tumbler of piping hot tea, defying another sweltering Baghdad morning. "And now, my child is like a bat. It's so hot he can only come out at night.

"But am I mad at the Americans? What does that mean? Were they supposed to come with a magic wand?"...

Booksellers grin when asked about their new reality. Poster salesman Laith Abdel Rahem said his register is flush with cash from Iraqis eager to practice democracy at home by papering walls with the likes of Gen. Abdel Karim Kassem, a rebel who led a coup against Iraq's monarchy in 1958 only to die in another rebellion in 1963.

Those who cannot afford the 100 dinars - about 6 cents a poster - still stop by to gawk, he said. "All kinds of people come and look at the posters. Some buy. Some salute. And some come up and even kiss them," Rahem said.

Wamid Nadhmi, a political science professor at Baghdad University, tries to gauge Iraqi sentiments by riffling through the 100-plus newspapers sold on the capital's street corners and by channel surfing.

Can anyone really know the depth or breadth of Iraqi support or ire, he asked aloud.

"Some people in Iraq were so marginalized, so tortured, that they considered the invasion of a foreign power as legitimate," he said. "Some Iraqis see the invasion as it was - and the Arab world betrayed them. Others say the Arab world betrayed them in another way by not speaking openly about what was going on in Iraq.

"What I think now is, most Iraqis don't know what to think. Iraqis don't have an accurate view of who is doing what."

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