Iraq to replace martial monuments with peace art

Fri Dec 26, 2008 7:09am EST
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By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Nearly six years after Iraqis and U.S. soldiers toppled grandiose monuments erected by Saddam Hussein, Iraq plans to put up 100 new art works it hopes will stand as affirmations of a new era of peace.

Before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, all statues and monuments in public squares made reference to Saddam's Baath party or told a story about its military victories against Iraq's numerous enemies.

Along with the giant Saddam statue that U.S. troops pulled down from Baghdad's al-Firdous square before television cameras in April 2003, many other images of the former president, often in military uniform, dotted the city.

Outside an Agriculture Ministry office, a mural depicted Saddam tilling the fields with a spade. At the Justice Ministry, he appeared in a gown, holding scales of justice.

Most of the murals have since been painted over and the statues destroyed by Iraqis in the chaos that followed the invasion. Sometimes, statues were pillaged for their metal.

Others still stand. Among them is a bronze statue of Iraqi soldiers standing on a tank and holding an Iraqi flag to symbolise victory over Iran during their bloody 1980-88 war.

In the heavily fortified Green Zone diplomatic compound, two pairs of giant arms emerge from the ground, hundreds of metres away from each other, holding crossed swords to form an arch across a parades ground. They were modeled on Saddam's hands and cast using 160 tonnes of bronze.

Iraq wants to replace such monuments with symbols of peace.   Continued...

<p>U.S. soldiers wait before going out on a mission under the "Crossed-Sabers"-- a towering 160-tonne, bronze monument of two crossed swords held in Saddam's hands, at the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad October 5, 2008. REUTERS/Erik de Castro</p>