Local Iraqi Reacts To Transfer Of Power

By Justin Wilfon

(LOUISVILLE, June 28th, 2004, 5 p.m.) -- And the transfer of power in Iraq has certainly caught the attention of one Louisville man. He escaped from Iraq shortly after the Gulf War. He says for him the transfer couldn't come soon enough. WAVE 3's Justin Wilfon reports.

As Salah Al-Hindawy started a new day at his restaurant, Babylon Arabian Cuisine on Strawberry Lane Monday, he was also celebrating a new day for his homeland. "It's good news for all the Iraqis."

But it's not news Al-Hindawy expected to hear. At least not now. "I expected a few days or a few weeks late."

Al-Hindawy says the transfer of power in Iraq is a great chapter in his country's history. "I think now is a chance for the Iraqis to experience and exercise their freedom without any other countries involved."

But he does want the U.S. to complete its work there and says other Iraqis do, too. "They worry about whether the soldiers are going to leave. Hopefully, we'll stay there for awhile and support the new government."

Al-Hindawy fled Iraq in 1991, but still gets a taste of it every day from news reports -- reminders of all those years living under a brutal dictatorship, a way of life he says the Iraqi people can't erase overnight.

"It's a time to learn just like any other country," Al-Hindawy says. "We need to have baby steps now to the way we want it."

But he knows that won't be easy. Violence in Iraq is a part of daily life, and Al-Hindawy believes most of it is being caused by terrorists who have snuck into the country. He also knows that's not the only challenge ahead.

"Saddam's loyalty is going to stand up and want their power back," Al-Hindawy says. But he doubts they will get it. He believes freedom will win out. "I think always Democracy will succeed anywhere."

Al-Hindawy hopes to travel to Iraq to visit his remaining family there sometime soon, but he'll wait for it to become more peaceful there before he does.

Online Reporter: Justin Wilfon

Online Producer: Michael Dever