The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
March 1, 2004

Religious Freedom in Iraq
Iraq Fact of the Day

Several million people are undertaking the pilgrimage to Karbala in southern Iraq to observe the Shiite holy day of Ashura. This is the first time in more than three decades that Iraqis will be able to mark Ashura without the shadow of the Baathist regime hanging over the ceremonies. In past years, Saddam Hussein's army and security forces would surround Karbala and Najaf and imprison many Iraqis who attempted to participate in the Ashura observances. Since liberation, Iraqis of all faiths -- including Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Yazidis, Mandaeans, and Jews -- are enjoying the freedom to openly practice their religious beliefs.

Source: Coalition Provisional Authority,Baghdad

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