Thousands of people gathered in Ouja, about 130 kilometres north of Baghdad, to mourn the death of the former president who ruled Iraq with an iron fist for more than two decades and was last month convicted of crimes against humanity in the reprisal killings of 148 people in 1982 following an assassination attempt.
Dozens of wailing relatives and other mourners attended the burial in a religious compound just before dawn. Some knelt before the flag-draped coffin while a picture of the deposed leader sat on a nearby chair.
“I condemn the way he was executed and I consider it a crime,” said 45-year-old Salam Hassan al-Nasseri, one of Saddam’s clansmen.
Saddam was buried about three kilometres from the graves of his sons, Odai and Qusai, who were killed in a gun battle with American forces in July 2003.
In Tikrit, Saddam’s former base of power, gunmen roamed the streets hoisting pictures of the ousted autocrat, firing shots in the air and calling for vengeance. Security was stepped up and on Saturday all entrances to the city were blocked so no one could leave or enter.
Saddam loyalists in the Sunni stronghold of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, defied curfews and also took to the streets Sunday, carrying pictures of the former president and waving Iraqi flags.
In the capital’s Shiite region of Sadr City people were celebrating Saturday, beating drums and hanging Saddam in effigy.
Sign up for a del.icio.us account here to save your bookmarks for free online.