Supporters celebrate Saddam's 70th birthday

Hundreds of people took unlit candles and flowers to Saddam Hussein's tomb in Ouja today to mark what would have been his 70th birthday.

Hundreds of people took unlit candles and flowers to Saddam Hussein's tomb in Ouja today to mark what would have been his 70th birthday.

The supporters said they were not only mourning the ousted leader, who was hanged on December 30 for crimes against humanity, but also the state of the war-torn Iraq.

"We came with candles but won't light them because the candle of Iraq, President Saddam Hussein, has gone as a martyr," said Fatin Abdul Qadir, director of a humanitarian children's group in nearby Tikrit. "We will light them when Iraq is liberated again."

Banners decorated buildings in the centre of Tikrit, with one "we congratulate the Iraqi resistance and the Iraqi people on the occasion the leader's birthday on April 28".

The ceremony was at Saddam's burial place, an ornate building with a marble floor that he had built for religious events in the Tigris River village on the outskirts of Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad.

For years, April 28 was filled with official celebration and enforced adulation of the authoritarian leader, who was endorsed by voters over the years in unopposed elections.

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