Baghdad Neighborhoods Subdued After Execution

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Linda Wertheimer talks with NPR's Baghdad office manager, Sabah Abu Nazar, about how his neighbors and the city are reacting to the Saddam's execution.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

Joining us now is our office manager in our Baghdad bureau, Sabah Abu Nazar. Thank you for speaking with us.

SABAH ABU NAZAR: You're welcome.

WERTHEIMER: Could you tell me what your friends and neighbors have been saying about the execution of Saddam Hussein?

ABU NAZAR: My neighbors, most of them are Christians. They say the time was not the exact time which should happen.

WERTHEIMER: It was not the right time?

ABU NAZAR: So some of them - yes. You know, like today starts the Eid of the Muslims. You know, people, they want, during this time, to be happy. But they have now the fear, like, to go out of their houses because maybe they'll expect some more violence in the streets.

WERTHEIMER: Does the city seem different to you today? Are people out in the streets or are they staying home?

ABU NAZAR: Today is Saturday. It's the first day. And I came to the office a little late. And I delay myself at home more than an hour. At 9:00 I've left. People maybe early morning, some of them had heard. So the streets were, you can say it's empty - less cars. Most of the shops were closed at 9:00. So I think they have the fear of the violence will be more, especially today.

WERTHEIMER: But what about the long term? Do you think people there believe that this death changes anything?

ABU NAZAR: In my opinion, I think this death will be change. Because, you know, Saddam's follower had maybe some hope for future. Now he died and I think that the violence will be more, like, few weeks more. After that, it will stop.

WERTHEIMER: So you think this might actually cause the violence to increase for a time, but then after that, perhaps it will decrease?

ABU NAZAR: Maybe it will be decreased. Yes.

WERTHEIMER: Were you at all surprised at how quickly this execution was carried out, how quickly Saddam Hussein was hanged after the final court ruling?

ABU NAZAR: Yes. I was surprised because it's been two days. I mean people in the streets were talking about the execution. And for me, I wasn't expect it, like, it will be happening as fast as it was.

WERTHEIMER: We've been speaking with the office manager of our Baghdad bureau, Sabah Abu Nazar. Thank you very much.

ABU NAZAR: You're welcome. Nice to talk to you.

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