SALFORD’S Kurdish community have led the city’s celebrations following Saddam Hussein’s capture.
They were among hundreds of Kurds and Iraqis across Greater Manchester who took to the streets to show their joy at the news the former dictator had been captured by coalition forces on Saturday.
Of the estimated 10,000 Iraqis who settled in Manchester during Saddam’s regime, it was the Kurdish community, many of them based in Salford, who celebrated the news more than anybody else.
The Kurds were victims of appalling persecution at the dictator’s hands, most notoriously in 1988 when thousands, most of them women and children, were wiped out in a series of attacks using chemical weapons.
Mohammed Saeed, a member of the Kurdish community of Salford and a volunteer for the local asylum seeker research group Rapar, was just one of those celebrating the news.
“I hadn’t heard anything because I had just gone straight to work,” Mr Saeed said. “When my friends started calling I turned on the television. I just couldn’t believe it, it was unbelievable.
“My first reaction was I thought they were joking, then when I saw the pictures I thought I was imagining things.
“I phoned a couple of my friends and they said it was true, so I invited them round to my house and we had a party.”
Mr Saeed first came to Salford after fleeing his home near Kirkuk two years ago, leaving behind his mother and sister. He said he had received an excited call from his mother after the news broke.
“She was so happy,” added Mr Saeed. “She said they were dancing on every corner of every street holding celebrations, and that it was great news for everybody.
“She also said it was time to rebuild again, and that was what they were thinking about most.
“Iraqis, especially Kurdish people, have been leaving the country for many years because of this, and now we’re free of him.
“There are other troubles, but Saddam was the main problem. Now, finally, it’s finished.”