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Local Iraqis feast, dance

Sadiq Alhamadah wants to take his family back to his homeland. "He said we might go back," his 9-year-old daughter Huda said Saturday afternoon, as they joined other Iraqis celebrating in Moorhead's Gooseberry Park the recent fall of Iraq Preside...

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Sadiq Alhamadah wants to take his family back to his homeland.

"He said we might go back," his 9-year-old daughter Huda said Saturday afternoon, as they joined other Iraqis celebrating in Moorhead's Gooseberry Park the recent fall of Iraq President Saddam Hussein.

Alhamadah and his wife, Zahra, moved here three years ago -- along with children Huda and Hadi, who are 9-year-old twins, and 7-year-old daughter Hadeel -- from Yemen, where they were refugees.

Alhamadah and the children, along with daughter Layla, 2, who was born in Fargo, were early arrivals at the rainy-day celebration. Zahra was at work, at Fargo's Tecton Products.

If and when the family ever returns to Iraq, it will be to a country much changed from the country Alhamadah fled.

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Alhamadah, a member of the Communist Party in Iraq, is an Arab Shiite, but fought along side the Iraqi Kurds as a freedom fighter against Hussein's armies. He said he fled when those armies used chemical weapons against the freedom fighters.

Though he and his wife struggle with English, his three older children -- all students at Moorhead's Probstfield Elementary School -- speak it well.

Huda said her father had managed an agricultural corporation when he lived in Iraq. "After we get citizenship here, he said we are going back," she said.

Yassin Barwari came to the United States in 1977. He has lived in Fargo-Moorhead since 1981. Barwari, one of the organizers of Saturday's event, said there are probably 500 Kurds and at least 600 Iraqis living in the community.

Kurdish music blared from a Gooseberry shelter as he and other organizers watched fellow Kurds and Iraqis arrive for a potluck feast, dancing and games.

"We want to celebrate the overthrow of Saddam Hussein," he said. "It is good for everybody. We can see that the U.S. is a liberator, not an invader."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Gerry Gilmour at (701) 241-5560

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