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Iraqi-American Calls Today 'New Day for Iraq'

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2005 – Today is "a new day for Iraq," regardless of who wins in the country's parliamentary elections, an Iraqi-American who emigrated here 12 years ago and became a U.S. citizen in 1995 said here today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Ali Sadoon al-Timimi, an Iraqi-American sporting his ink-stained finger showing he's voted, calls Iraq's parliamentary election on Dec. 15 "a new day" for his native country. Photo by Donna Miles
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Ali Sadoon al-Timimi, a Shiite Muslim from Basra, proudly held up his ink-stained finger to show he'd been to the East Coast polling station in nearby McLean, Va., set up where Iraqi expatriates could vote.

After three and a half decades under Saddam Hussein's bloody dictatorship, Timimi acknowledges he and many of his countrymen never dreamed they'd live to see the day when they would choose a new, democratically elected government.

"We're really, really excited," he said. "We as Iraqis believe in democracy, and the people are so happy to see this day."

Timimi remembers all too well the brutality and repression of the Saddam Hussein regime. He said two of his brothers were murdered under Saddam's order, one during the 1991 uprising against him.

Regardless of who wins at the polls today and what sect they represent, Timimi said, all Iraqis will be winners if their legislators keep the interests of the country at heart.

"Whoever wins, it doesn't matter, as long as they are for the people," he said. "Who's good is good and who's bad is bad. It doesn't matter what group they come from."

Timimi said he's encouraged to see Sunnis taking an active part in the elections after boycotting the January elections. "The Sunnis have come to see that this is the new reality and that things have to change," he said. "It's good is that they are now a part of that."

A U.S. citizen for the past 10 years, Timimi keeps in close touch with his family in Iraq and travels there frequently as an adviser to U.S. military organizations and contractors.

He sees a critical mission for himself and his fellow Iraqi-Americans: to help bridge the gap between Iraqis and Americans and educate their fellow Iraqis about America. Many Iraqis know only what the Saddam Hussein regime taught them about the United States, he said.

"I want people to see the other side," said Timimi. "Our responsibility is to help educate the people in Iraq."

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