By Sam Dagher
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A 40-year-old Iraqi Shiite cried as she recounted the hanging of Saddam Hussein, saying the new Iraqi government offered him as a "sacrifice" to Iran and the United States. Just a few blocks away, a 70-year-old woman showed no remorse. "Good riddance," she said.
Across the country, Iraqis have met the execution of the former dictator with mixed emotions, ranging from jubilation to tears. There also is astonishment, indifference and fear of what's to come.
"I watched the whole thing with disbelief on Saturday. I was trembling and even afraid that it was being staged and that they would not kill Saddam. But the tyrant is gone," said a guard working near Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.
Close by, his comrades were busy showing each other footage of the Saddam execution circulating on mobile telephones. Most were Shiites from very poor backgrounds who live in the slums of Sadr City and support radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Another guard spoke about anger and sadness in Sunni parts of Baghdad where Hussein, who was Sunni, was mourned. He said mock funerals were held in the staunchly Sunni Arab district of Ameriyah with people parading an empty coffin draped with an Iraqi flag. Black funeral banners were put up on the walls calling Saddam a "hero and a martyr," he said. (Watch mourners kneeling, weeping at grave )
Ameriyah is the scene of frequent clashes between government forces and hardline Sunni insurgents.
In Salehiya, one of the few remaining mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad, the family of Musa Mohammed celebrated both the first day of Eid Al-Adha for Shiites and the execution of Saddam.
The lawn in front of the family's two-story home was stained with a pool of blood where a sheep was slaughtered earlier in honor of the occasion.
Musa, 42, sat with his mother and nephew Mohammed, 14. Musa is single and has a degree in philosophy and works as a translator for western contractors in Iraq. He lives with his three brothers and their families and his mother.
He says that Mohammed's father -- who died last year at the age of 53 of a heart attack -- was a "victim of Saddam's regime because he served in the military for 20 years. And it was all in vain."
Musa said he had mixed emotions when he saw footage of the Saddam hanging. (Watch amateur video of Hussein minutes before his execution -- graphic content, viewer discretion advised )
"On one hand, I was ecstatic because finally this untouchable tyrant met the just fate he deserved," he said.
"On the other hand, it brought back very painful memories of his rule, which I had to live through. I still remember when he first became president. The whole thing is very painful. Hanging him is not enough.
"Anyone who sympathizes with Saddam is an infidel and I am true believer," he said.
His 70-year-old mother described the execution this way: "Good riddance. He killed our religious symbols. We spent our lives in war and killing."
'I cried so hard'
A few blocks down, it was a different scene at the home of Umm Abdullah, a 40-year-old Shiite Kurd, who works as a school teacher. She is divorced with three children.
"I was shocked. I cried so hard," she said from the sofa in her small living room.
"It was a surprise on the first day of Eid. No Muslim would do what this government did. They offered him as a sacrifice for America and the Iranians. I would say more for the Iranians."
She broke down in tears and sobbed for about a minute.
She composed herself and continued saying that Saddam faced his hanging "like a hero and mocked his executors."
About the footage circulating on mobile telephones and over the Internet, she said: "It was disgusting hearing them rejoice with Shiite chants as if it was a wedding."
"They are not real men. Who the hell is Muqtada for them to praise him?" she said.
In the footage of the execution, some of those in attendance chanted the name of Muqtada al-Sadr moments before Saddam's hanging, with the former Iraqi dictator repeating "Muqtada al-Sadr" in a mocking tone.
"Saddam insulted them up to the last moment. He was fantastic and a hero."
She said she loves Saddam despite the fact her cousin was killed during his reign for being a member of the then-banned Dawa Party of current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. She also lost two brothers in the Iran-Iraq war.
"I do not think those in Sadr City represent all Shiites. Not all Shiites are happy," she said.
She said she was not observing Eid and not buying sweets or gifts for her children because of Saddam's execution.
"I have not cooked or showered since yesterday. I have been glued to the television set."
She added Saddam "harmed only those who harmed him" and that his death would not bring an end to the violence that has gripped Iraq.
"Iraq is finished and ruined," she said. "Saddam's hanging will not bring an end to the mess we're in."
'End of a dark era'
It was a party scene at the house of Mahmoud Askar, 53. He is a Kurd hailing from the northern city of Suliemaniyah and works at the Ministry of Transport.
He was hosting the engagement of his niece. The couple sat on a sofa as relatives clapped and danced to loud Arabic pop music. Cake and candy was being handed out.
"It's a triple celebration for us. It's New Year's Eve, Eid al-Adha and also the engagement party. We are also ecstatic it all coincided with Saddam's end," Mahmoud said.
"It's the end of a dark era. It's a new chapter for Iraq."
However, he strongly objected to the video of the execution, especially now that it's being traded over mobile phones across the nation.
"The filming of the execution was repulsive. It sent the wrong message to the world," he said. "It's actually beneficial to Saddam because it depicted him as a brave hero. More people will sympathize with him now."
His nephew Qasim Hussein, 33, said the government was compelled to show the footage because "average Iraqis would not have believed it otherwise. We are a very violent culture. We love such spectacles."
In another home, Abu Gaith, 50, a Sunni Arab, said that Saddam's hanging will not bring an end to the sectarian strife raging on in Iraq -- and may even make it worse.
"They should have done it quietly," he said.
"Things got worse since he was deposed, captured, imprisoned and put on trial. Now that they hanged him, nothing will change."
Another Sunni Arab, who did not want to be identified, said that "Saddam's hanging is a time bomb waiting to explode any moment now. What a foolish decision to hang him."
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