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Diary: Iraqi Soccer Victory Releases Tension

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Diary: Iraqi Soccer Victory Releases Tension

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Diary: Iraqi Soccer Victory Releases Tension

Diary: Iraqi Soccer Victory Releases Tension

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Hassan Khaliday, a 24-year-old dentist struggling in war-torn Baghdad, describes a celebration by Iraqis after their soccer team's victory over Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cup in July. The festivity was one of the few moments for cheer in Iraq these days.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

All this week, we've been listening to testimony about the future of the U.S. presence in Iraq. We've also been trying to give you a flavor of daily life in Iraq, which is why we've been listening to an audio diary.

Earlier this summer, Iraq's national soccer team beat Saudi Arabia in the finals of the Asian Cup. And each victory leading up to that final match brought Iraqis out to the streets to celebrate. Sometimes the celebrations ended in tragedy as militants settled scores while citizens were dancing in the streets.

Twenty-four-year-old Hassan Khalidy was among the celebrants. We've been hearing from him this week. And in today's journal, he shares his celebration with us.

(Soundbite of cheers)

Dr. HASSAN KHALIDY (Dentist): We are champions. Yes, we are the champions. The champions of the Asian Cup in Iraq. And this is one of the celebration, one of the Baghdad streets, in the Karada exactly. The Iraqi people feel very, very, very happy. And many people are crowded and celebrating in the streets for this wide victory against Saudi Arabia. And we win and to lead the Asian Cup.

Now, I return back to my home. It's 11 o'clock, so quiet here in my home. My parents tell me, why you are until now outside your home? It's very late, 11 o'clock. And the situation is so dangerous. And I ask them to permit for me just this day to go outside my home because this is a specific day and all the Iraqi people are outside and celebrating. For the first time we feel so happy, for the first time after many years, sure.

Now, I will sleep now. I feel so relief with a good mood. Maybe this day, I will dream a nice dream. Sure, because I am happy. And after everything, I'd like to thank the Iraqi team, thank the Iraqi team for this victory and for this achieve. Sure, I'd like to thank our God because he helped us - he helps us. And sorry, I'm so tired because I danced and I sing. And now, I will go to sleep. So goodnight for you, and thank you. Bye-bye.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Hassan Khalidy is a dentist in Baghdad. We hear from his audio diary all this week on MORNING EDITION.

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