Saturday, September 4, 2004

Morning in Iraq...

I was touched by this simple speech, which went largely unnoticed at the Republican convention. It was given by Zainab Al-Suwaij, Executive Director of the American Islamic Congress.

Thank you for your kind welcome. From my heart, I offer you the traditional Muslim greeting: As Salam Alaikum-- Peace be upon you.

I am honored to stand here tonight. When I came to the United States from Iraq 12 years ago, I would never have imagined myself speaking to a group like this.

Living under Saddam Hussein, we could not gather as we do now to discuss things like democracy and freedom. We could only dream of a day when we could speak freely, and worship God in ways of our own choosing.

Instead, we lived under a murderer who used every weapon in his arsenal against us-- from tanks to torture chambers to poison gas.

When people talk about the war in Iraq -- I want to remind them that there has been a war raging in Iraq for the last 3 decades. A war waged by Saddam against his own people. I lived through it. I saw it brutalize my friends and my family.

But today, I come to tell you that Iraq enjoys a new day. Yes, there is still bloodshed and uncertainty -- but America, under the strong, compassionate leadership of President Bush, has given Iraqis the most precious gift any nation has ever given another -- the gift of democracy and the freedom to determine its own future.

Already, the seeds of democracy are bearing fruit --- with popular elections recently held for local officials. And we know our children face a brighter future.

So as I grieve for the courageous Americans and Iraqis who were killed and injured during Iraq's liberation, I tell you proudly that their noble sacrifice was not in vain.

As Iraqis assume full sovereignty, they embrace the American people in friendship and gratitude.I promise you: we will never forget what your sons and daughters did for us.

Thank you.

Update: An inteview with Zainab al Suwaij at

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