Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Did Saddam use gypsies as a political tool?

The Iraqi leader allowed the bad-reputed gypsies to settle down in Abu Ghreib district, 10 kilometers to the west of Baghdad, where the Zawabei tribe, known for its religiosity and links to Iraq’s Islamic Movement, is populated just as an act of revenge.

Settling down the gypsies was a sort of reprisal be cause the Zawabei tribe was known for strong connections with former president Abdel-Salam Arif, tribal sources said.

“The gypsies were straying from one place to another until the Baath Party and Saddam came to power,” said Abdullah Taha, a Zawabei tribesman.

“We are devout people, and Saddam wanted to tarnish our image by building blocs for gypsies in our territories in 1979,” he added.

“They were selling whisky and beer and trading women. We were concerned about the safety of our children at this atmosphere,” said Ibrahim al-Zawabei, another member of the tribe.

With the disappearance of the Saddam regime, the country’s gypsies were severely assaulted by nearby tribesmen.

“They attacked us with bombs and weapons, forcing 136 families to flee leaving their houses and money behind,” said Ahmed, a gypsy, in a camp down the road to Baghdad.

< email | 5/06/2003 10:51:00 AM | link

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