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Published: Saturday, 12/30/2006

Iraqis here remember dictator s savagery

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Native Iraqis now in northwest Ohio responded strongly to Saddam Hussein s hanging, even as his death last night evoked painful memories.

Saddam, he kill everybody in Iraq, even fish in the water, even birds in the sky, said Madline Marogen, 49, a Chaldean who was in Iraq s Christian minority before she moved to the United States in 1982. I m glad.

Shereen Salih Abbas, 37, in the United States a decade, was watching television last night and waiting.

I m Kurdish. I m not Arab. You know how Saddam was with Kurdish people, with everybody, Mrs. Abbas said.

The Iraqi-Americans, though of varied opinion, agreed that increased violence is sure to follow the execution.

I don t care about if he s killed or not, said Zina Istefan, 32, a

Chaldean Christian.

Al-Hayani Al-Hayani
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I m feeling for my family [in Iraq] because of what s going to happen. I m sure it s going to be more and more worse, said Mrs. Istefan, who became a U.S. citizen last year.

Shakir Al-Hayani, 68, a Sunni Muslim, believes the court that tried Saddam was not legitimate and that he did not get justice.

I m not judging what he did, said Mr. Al-Hayani, a retired City of Toledo engineer who has lived in the United States 40 years. Some people are going to get upset and go in the street.

The timing is bad, he said. Iraq already is in chaos. Mr. Al-Hayani s niece was killed two months ago by a bomb as she took a picture in front of the University of Baghdad, from which she d just graduated. Her brother, 16, was killed last year by a bomb.

A lot of innocent civilians are dying, Mr. Al-Hayani said. There are a lot of crazy people in Iraq. We don t know who s doing it.

Mrs. Istefan agreed that Saddam should be executed because he did a lot. But she said that opinion would not be shared by Iraqi Christians, who are very peaceful, whatever happened to them. They don t wish bad things to others.

There are estimated to be about 125 people living in northwest Ohio who are from Iraq. Most are believed to be Christian.

Ms. Marogen was 12 when Saddam-commanded military forces came to her village and killed two brothers and two uncles. They thought Chaldeans were terrorists, she said. She and a friend were shot. Both received last rites at the hospital. Her friend died.

One brother was shot in the head, she said. I hugged his head in my chest, and then felt I got shot too. I felt it in my [hip] bone. I saw a lot of soldiers, they were crying, Ms. Marogen said. I never forget that day. I was young. But I remember it.

Al-Marayati Al-Marayati
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Abid Al-Marayati, who has taught political science for many years at the University of Toledo, stayed away from Iraq for years because of Saddam s Baath Party, because of the turmoil that has taken place in Iraq. I know about the terrible things probably more than the average person.

Still, the execution was inhuman, he said. I am against capital punishment. It has nothing to do with Saddam Hussein, Mr. Al-Marayati said.

The professor, a Shiite Muslim, said the agitation to come won t be a matter of Shiite and Sunni against each other. It will be agitation by Saddam s supporters, both Shiite and Sunni, because he had both, Mr. Al-Marayati said.

There is going to be greater effort at injuring U.S. troops, he said.

This is a tragedy. We are really talking about fathers, brothers, children, on all sides.

He left Iraq in 1963, when the Baath Party succeeded in a violent coup against the prime minister. The United States supported that coup, he said.

Many of the things we blame [Saddam] for, we encouraged him to do that, Mr. Al-Marayati said. We tend to do things both ways, and then we end up in the middle.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade or 419-724-6182.


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