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Iraqi Women Say Peace Impossible with Saddam in Power
Shelby Murphy

It is easy to be confused by all the peace rhetoric and partisan politics lobbed about like scud missiles. Even before the forceful disarmament and removal of Saddam began, the shouts of dissent grew so loud, they drowned out the voices of those who actually know what they’re talking about. As always, when you want the real story, go to the women.

Following are a few of the voices of the daughters, mothers, and sisters who have lived under, and now have the freedom to speak about, the unimaginable evil of Saddam Hussein. These are women who have faced ungodly horrors, from gang-rape to torture to public beheading. These are the women used by war protestors to hoist their illegitimate argument, "But women and children will be killed."

Millions of women and children have already been killed… by the enemy within. Their voices should be our voices. We could never have honestly claimed to be peace-loving people if we had continued to ignore the cancer that has inflicted suffering on so many. As these wise women can attest, life, liberty, freedom, and real peace are worth fighting for.

Zainab Al-Suwaij, a Shi’a woman from Southern Iraq who participated in the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein and now serves as the executive director of the American Islamic Congress.

"Today in the U.S., as I watch soldiers shipping off, I see protesters chanting against American ambition and greed. Having lived through wars that were all about one man###s ambition and greed, I am pained to see how these protesters have missed the mark. On behalf of Iraqis who cannot speak openly with reporters or who have given their lives trying to free Iraq from Hussein###s brutal rule, let me say clearly: American, British and other allied soldiers are a sign of hope and liberation."

Dr. Maha Hussain is a Muslim Arab born and raised in Baghdad. She witnessed Iraqi government brutality at a young age and is an activist on behalf of democracy in Iraq.
"Heads of state tell us that we should let the inspections work. But inspections will not stop Saddam from torturing and murdering Iraqis with impunity. Give peace a chance, they say. But Iraq has not seen a single day of peace since Saddam violently and ruthlessly asserted his power 34 years ago. This simple fact seems to have conveniently eluded the so-called ‘peace-lovers,’ whether they are world leaders who parade as the world###s conscience or activists who have taken it upon themselves to march in the name of the people of Iraq.

"If they really care about peace, these people should take a hard look at the status quo that they would have us maintain in Iraq. They should look through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old who must walk by the hanging bodies in Baghdad###s "Liberation Square" on her way to school. They should look through the eyes of a man forced to watch his daughter, wife, mother or sister gang-raped by Saddam###s agents. They should look through the eyes of a Kurd whose wife and children lie dead in the street, their bodies bloated and disfigured by the chemical gasses with which Saddam massacred 5,000 people in three days."

Dr. Katrin Michael is from Northern Iraq; she joined the Kurdish-based Iraqi resistance movement in 1982 to fight against Saddam Hussein’s regime. A victim of chemical bombings by Saddam’s forces, she fled Iraq in 1988.
"As a woman who wages peace, and who has lived through war, I appeal to all people, but especially women and peace activists, to support American actions to remove Saddam Hussein. After twenty-six years of resistance activities against Saddam, I have come to the conclusion that only support from outside Iraq can bring an end to the nightmare of his rule.

"I have experienced first hand the ravages Saddam Hussein###s wars against the Iraqi people. He is one of the world###s most brutal and violent tyrants in power. He does not hesitate to have young girls arrested, as I was at the age of fourteen merely because I joined the Iraqi Women###s League. Throughout the 1980s and as recently as 1998, Saddam experimented with chemical and biological weapons in massive bombing campaigns against civilian populations in Northern and Southern Iraq. I was caught in one of these bombing campaigns, and watched people die around me. I continue to suffer to this day from lung, nerve and eye damage caused by these weapons.

"No one in Iraq is immune from Saddam###s brutality… but women###s groups in the West should know that Saddam specifically targets women as part of his broader policies of intimidation. A commonly used form of torture is to bring in detainee###s female relative, preferably his wife, daughter or mother, and gang rape her in front him. How many men can bear to subject their female relatives to such brutality? Iraqis in exile receive videotapes of their female relatives in Iraq being raped. Is it any surprise that Iraqi scientists refuse to speak to weapons inspectors?"

A Kurd from Northern Iraq, Kanar Sarraj worked with a humanitarian organization in the early 1990s, assisting the victims of Saddam Hussein. She was evacuated to the United States in 1996.

"Those who question the need to remove Saddam fail to grasp that he is a danger to the whole world. They worry about the casualties of a war – but what about the people that Saddam arbitrarily executes to terrorize the population? They worry about the refugees created by war – but what about the millions of refugees from Saddam’s ethnic cleansing campaigns? They worry about the humanitarian consequences of war – but what about the consequences of Saddam’s forced starvation policies?

"These protestors claim to stand for peace, but there can never be peace unless people stand up against tyrants like Saddam."

Shelby Murphy is a freelance writer, columnist, and mother of two. Her work has earned countless local and national bylines and circulates the globe online. In 2001, she started RadiantWomen, an online and syndicated print column for women who live life on purpose. For a free subscription or more information, contact Shelby at or go to