Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Iraqi keynote speaker says war was right


Zainab Al-Suqwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Conference, speaks at the evening session of the first day of the Republican National Convention Monday.


US Republicans brought out an Iraqi woman who suffered under Saddam Hussein's rule to bolster President George W. Bush's re-election bid, at their national convention in New York.

Dressed in an Islamic headscarf, Zainab al-Suwaij on Monday told thousands of party faithful and their guests that Bush had been right to unleash his unpopular war that brought down the Baghdad dictator.

"We lived under a murderer who used every weapon in his arsenal against us, from tanks to torture chambers to poison gas," she said.

"When people talk about the war in Iraq, I want to remind them that there has been a war raging in Iraq for three decades -- a war waged by Saddam against his own people."

Suwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Congress, said the United States under Bush had "given Iraqis the most precious gift any nation has ever given another -- the gift of democracy and freedom to determine its own future."

She added: "We will never forget what your sons and daughters did for us."

With Muslim rage high around the world over the war, the Republicans were keen to underscore a dual message of tolerance for Islam and intolerance for the terror attacks carried out in its name.

Senator John McCain, the key speaker on Monday's opening night of the four-day convention, said the "awful events" of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States were a declaration of war.

"Its a fight between a just regard for human dignity and a malevolent force that defiles an honorable religion by disputing Gods love for every soul on earth," McCain said.

Meanwhile the invocation for Monday night's ceremonies were delivered by Imam Pasha, the first Muslim chaplain to the New York City police department. He read two verses from the Koran, Islam's holy book.

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