The moment Saddam Hussein appeared, a Shi’ite housewife spat on the screen and then sat gnawing her fingers, seething, as her family crowded around the television. When the judge addressed the ousted president as “Mr. Saddam,” she burst: “The beast Saddam, you mean!”
Across the Tigris River in the mostly Sunni Arab district of Azamiyah, some Iraqis were also riveted to their sets. Namir Sharif, a 46-year-old former army officer, was on the verge of tears of pride as a defiant Hussein argued with the judge.
“He turned the trial upside down; this is a heroic act,” he said.
Some Iraqis watched with hatred or fear, some with joy, others with bitterness. But above all, they watched enthralled, unable to remove their eyes from the image of their once all-powerful leader reduced to a defendant on trial Wednesday.
In Detroit, many Iraqi expatriates woke up early to watch the trial on television. Abdul Khaliq Alsaeedy said the trial brings hope to many expatriates that peace and freedom will return to their homeland.
Alsaeedy, who visited southern Iraq and Baghdad in December, said that if Hussein is executed, violence will stop because the Baath Party will have no leader. “Saddam Hussein is the head. That party is still alive. Just like a snake, you should kill the snake from the head,” he said.