Sunday, January 30, 2005


Freedom at long last.

Casting his vote, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi called it "the first time the Iraqis will determine their destiny."

Concern over violence was rife as voters entered polling stations under loops of razor wire and the watchful eye of rooftop sharpshooters. About 300,000 Iraqi and American troops were on the streets and on standby to protect voters

When an unexplained boom sounded near one Baghdad voting station, some women put their hands to their mouths and whispered prayers. Others continued walking calmly to the voting stations. Several shouted in unison: "We have no fear."

"Am I scared? Of course I'm not scared. This is my country," said 50-year-old Fathiya Mohammed, wearing a head-to-toe abaya cloak.