Zainab Al-Suwaij

2004 Republican National Convention Address

delivered 30 August 2004 , Madison Square Garden, New York

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio.]

Thank you for your kind welcome.

From my heart, I would like to offer you the traditional Muslim greeting: Assalaamu alaykum -- "Peace be upon you."

I am honored to stand here tonight. When I came to the United States from Iraq twelve years ago, I would never have imagined myself speaking to a group like this. Living under Saddam Hussein, we could not gather as we do now to discuss things like democracy and freedom. We could only dream of a day when we could speak freely and worship God in a ways of our own choosing.  Instead, we lived under a murderer who used every weapon in his arsenal against us -- from tanks, to torture chambers, to poison gas. When people talk about the war in Iraq, I want to remind them that there has been a war raging in Iraq for the last three decades.

A war was waged by Saddam against his own people. I lived through it. I saw it brutalized my friends and my family.

But today, I come to tell you that Iraq enjoys a new day.

Yes, there is still a blood chain and uncertainty, but America, under the strong compassionate leadership of a President Bush has given Iraqis the most precious gift any nation has ever given to another -- the gift of democracy and the freedom to determine its own future.

Already the seeds of democracy are bearing fruit with popular elections recently held for local officials, and we know our children face a brighter future.

So as I grieve for the courageous Americans and Iraqis who were killed and injured during Iraq’s liberation, I tell you proudly that their noble sacrifice was not in vein.

As Iraqis assume full sovereignty, they embrace the American people in friendship and gratitude. I promise you we will never forget what your sons and daughters did for us.

Thank you very much.


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