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Iraqis Celebrate A More Peaceful New Year’s

From a dejected Reuters:

Residents buy presents as they prepare to celebrate the new year in Baghdad December 31, 2007.

For hopeful Iraqis, New Year’s parties at last

By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqis were out all day on New Year’s Eve buying cakes, balloons, party decorations and new clothes to celebrate the holiday in the hope of a more peaceful 2008.

Many Baghdad residents said they planned to celebrate New Year’s Eve properly for the first time in years as violence subsides in the capital after years of sectarian war.

“My girlfriends, a cousin and I decided to gather in my house to celebrate,” said Baraa, a 30-year-old woman carrying a big box of cake from the al-Tahouna pastry shop in central Baghdad’s Karrada shopping district.

“Last year we also tried to gather but my cousin was killed on New Year’s Eve. God willing, this year things will go well.”

Like many Iraqis she said she will miss absent family like her brother, one of about 2 million Iraqis who have fled abroad.

“God willing this year peace prevails, the people who have gone abroad will come back.”

Qais Mansour, a 70-year-old Catholic priest, emerged from the shop carrying two plastic bags of sweets for children who were coming to his church on New Year’s Eve afternoon.

“We will say prayers thanking God that we are still alive and asking him for a better coming year, and for the situation to improve, to be more peaceful and secure,” he said.

“We wish the political parties will reach agreement next year that we are all human, to respect one another and to live in peace.”

Iraq has seen a dramatic reduction in violence over the past six months, but attacks have not ceased. A suicide car bomber struck a checkpoint near a school in Tarmiya north of Baghdad killing 11 people including five children.

Still, shops have reopened and the centre of Baghdad now bustles again in a way it hasn’t since early 2005, when the worst sectarian violence was unleashed.

Some shops decorated their front windows with cotton wool, writing: “Welcome 2008” or “Happy New Year.” Others had Santa Claus decorations and Christmas trees.

In a flower shop Iyad Issa, 42, was buying a New Year’s Eve bouquet for his wife.

“Since we see things are getting better, I am trying to make my family happy. I decided to bring my wife flowers for New Year’s Eve to bring happiness and renewal,” he said while browsing among the blossoms.

In another street, Abu Wisam, 42, was buying party hats from a street vendor: “I wish the best to all Iraqis,” he said.

A group of women in a nearby boutique were out shopping together for outfits to see in the New Year.

“Tonight I am invited to a wedding party. Then I will go with my husband to our friend’s house to celebrate,” said Azhar, 35, who was looking for a new dress suit.

“I wish peace to prevail, and nothing else.”

It looks like Reuters thought they should slip in at least one positive story about Iraq before the year was out. They just got it in under the wire.

Of course just the other day Reuters and the rest of our watchdog media were hoping that the anniversary of their hero Saddam Hussein’s execution would finally bring about their longed for civil war.

But that, alas, did not happen. So they have had to resort to stories like this.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, December 31st, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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