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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May, 2003, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
New statue replaces Saddam
Sculpture to replace the statue of Saddam Hussein
The sculpture represents love, peace and freedom

A group of Iraqi artists has unveiled a sculpture to replace the statue of Saddam Hussein which was torn down by US troops and Iraqis on the day the Iraqi president lost control of Baghdad.

The new sculpture is seven metres (23 feet) high and shows a symbolic Iraqi family holding aloft a crescent moon and a sun.

The sculpture was erected in the Fardus square by a group called the Najin - the survivors, alluding to the fact that they evaded the authorities during Saddam Hussein's rule.

The square is opposite the Palestine Hotel, which was the base for international media during the Iraq war.

One of the group told Kurdish TV that the sculpture represents Iraqi society, with the crescent moon representing Islam and the sun representing the Sumerian civilization in Iraq.

"These two civilizations have called for love, peace and freedom," he said.

Saddam statue toppled on the 9 April 2003
9 April - the day Baghdad fell

The group said the sculpture was only one third of the work they had planned for the Fardus square and the other two thirds would cover the whole area. They added that financial problems had delayed its completion.

The sculptor of the piece, Basim Hamad, was optimistic about the future for the Iraqi people after the war.

"What we see today in our country could be the first signs of freedom," he said. "What remains is a history that we will make together with the Najin group at its heart."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.





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