- Title: IRAQ: PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSSEIN CELEBRATES HIS 63RD BIRTHDAY
- Date: 28th April 2000
- Summary: SU IBRAHIM CUTTING CAKE MV OFFICIALS WATCHING MV GIRLS DANCING (8 SHOTS) MV IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TAREQ AZIZ WATCHING CELEBRATIONS MV PEOPLE MARCHING; OFFICIALS WATCHING (3 SHOTS) VARIOUS OF PARADES/ HELICOPTER (3 SHOTS) SV IBRAHIM WAVING TO CROWD SLV MORE OF MARCHING/ (12 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 13th May 2000 13:00
- Location: TIKRIT, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVABW064KJ3HVO6REM21O6NLLBDM
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Iraq's President Saddam Hussein has celebrated his 63rd birthday as tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to show their support for the man who has brought the country two major wars, regular air-strikes and a decade of United Nations sanctions.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis turned out at the Iraqi president's home town of Tikrit, 170 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, on Friday (April 28) to vow their allegiance to the Iraqi leader.
Chanting slogans such as "With our soul and blood we redeem you, Saddam!" the crowd carried placards and banners praising their president despite the fact that Saddam, himself, was not present.
Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council Izzat Ibrahim, in full military uniform, gave the signal to start the festivities after cutting a giant birthday cake, shaped like a flower, to the tune of "Happy Birthday to You".
"We ask God...to prolong his life and make this an occasion of victory to us and to our nation against our enemies and the enemies of humanity," Ibrahim said.
Schoolgirls in brightly coloured uniforms danced and sang in front of top government and ruling Ba'ath Party officials and members of diplomatic missions accredited in Baghdad.
After a brief parade by soldiers, thousands of people carrying banners and pictures of Saddam filed past the stand where the officials sat, vowing allegiance to Saddam.
"Izzat tell Saddam, your people will not be defeated,"
some chanted as Iraqi army helicopters hovered above.
The crowd was made up mostly of young Ba'ath Party cadets and tribal representatives from several parts of Iraq including the Kurdish north and Shi'ite south.
One participant at the festivities said: "We are here celebrating the birthday of our president, Saddam Hussein and on this occasion the people show their love to him and to their country".
Celebrating Saddam's birthday has grown in importance in Iraq since the 1991 defeat of Iraqi forces in the Gulf War over Kuwait and failed popular uprisings in the north and south of the country soon afterwards.
"The birth of leader Saddam Hussein is a reincarnation of Iraq and the Arab nation," a banner carried by the crowd said.
"28th of April: the birth of an Arab genius," said another.
Saddam has ruled since 1979, leading the country through the 1980-88 war with Iran and then the 1991 Gulf War.He put down an uprising in the south and contained one in the north.
Since then he has brushed off several U.S.and British military strikes and defections of some senior aides, including his two sons-in-law.
And today despite nearly 10 years of U.N.sanctions and almost daily U.S.and British air strikes in northern and southern Iraq, Saddam remains in full control of power.
State radio and television broadcast special programmes for the occasion, playing patriotic songs and carrying messages of congratulations from Arab and Iraqi figures.
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