“His statue has fallen but no one can tear him from our hearts,” an Iraqi

TIKRIT, Iraq, April 20 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – In contrast to the reported and aired live jubilant scenes of tearing down the symbols of the outgoing regime of Iraq, residents of Saddam Hussein’s hometown mourned their deposed leader after U.S. troops toppled one of his statues in Tikrit Saturday, April 19.

Tikrit fell to the invading U.S.-led forces Monday, April 14, bringing to an end major battles in Iraq.

After securing the outgoing leader’s hometown, U.S. troops did not tear down Saddam’s statue immediately and waited for a few days, probably hoping the residents would come out to do the job themselves.

However, only about a dozen locals grudgingly helped U.S. marines take down the statue of the former strongman in Tikrit, 180 kilometers (115 miles) north of the capital, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The cast iron statue was quickly toppled with the help of metal cables and a couple of light armored vehicles.

Its remains were left on the pavement, a few meters (yards) from Tikrit’s main square.

“It feels good, good to see this guy go down,” said U.S. marine Private Will Lewellyn. “I am risking my life for their freedom.”

His colleague Michael Cota said: “I wish we would have done it the very first day we were here. Maybe they can use the metal for recycling.”

Insult To All Iraqis

Cleaning the head of Saddam’s fallen statue

Tikritis, however, were in no mood for jokes, and solemnly mourned the symbol on its last journey.

Crying men kissed the statue’s feet and hugged his face, saying “long live Saddam”. A four-year-old child was brought by his grandfather to kiss the symbol goodbye, while an elderly man fumed nearby.

“It’s an insult to all Iraqis, to all Arabs,” he said in reference to what the marines had done.

As U.S. troops moved away, the feelings grew stronger and everyone had something to say.

“They are tearing our hearts out. That is what they mean by liberating Iraq?”, “Tomorrow blood will be spilled. Everyone in Iraq loves Saddam”, and “His statue has fallen but no one can tear him from our hearts,” were just some of the comments.

Four U.S. soldiers, three men and a woman, approached to take a photo with themselves and the statue.

Quickly they felt the tension and held their weapons at the ready.

The biggest soldier cut through the crowd, which closed in behind them, growling “go, go, go”.

“We don’t have anything against the Iraqis, it’s Saddam Hussein that we don’t like,” said one marine.

After an exchange of dialogue with the crows in which neither side seemed to understand the other, the marines moved off, saying they would come back later.

Although the city was swarming with occupation forces a few days ago, these four were on their own.

The Tikritis tried to get their hero back on his feet, but a former Iraqi security officer warned: “No one must touch Saddam. I’ll kill the first to try.”