A number of Iraqi provinces witnessed spontaneous celebrations Monday morning (March 8th) in markets and residential neighbourhoods after millions of Iraqis cast their votes in Sunday's parliamentary election.
"Our happiness today can't be described," said Abdul Raheem Jassim, 51, a resident of Baghdad. "We were afraid that the election might be disrupted, fail or be boycotted by Iraqis. However, after announcing that voter turnout was good (62.4%), that its success was significant and that all Iraqis, whether Sunnis, Shias, Kurds or Christians have participated in it, we must celebrate and be happy because we're taking a huge stride towards stability and security."
In Baghdad, hundreds of Iraqis took to the streets Monday after the Iraqi government decided to lift the curfew. Individuals were dancing, singing and chanting patriotic slogans against terrorism and glorifying Iraq. Many women participated in those celebrations which lasted for several hours in the areas of al-Amiriya, al-Ghazaliya, al-Karrada, al-Sayidiya, al-Jamaa, al-Adl and al-Yarmuk.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Interior Ministry issued orders to the police in the rest of the provinces to facilitate the movements of revellers, as was the case in Mosul, Fallujah, Samarra and Diyala.
Maj. Gen. Aiden Khalid, head of the election high security committee, said "We hope that the coming days will be full of joy and happiness for Iraqis."
"Some Iraqis went to the streets to express their happiness because the lists they voted for were in the lead, while some others were celebrating the success of the election in general," Khalid added.
Shop owners in al-Karrada and al-Azamiya distributed candy and juice to passers-by, as loudspeakers in their shops played "Baghdad, Poets and Pictures" by Lebanese singer Fairuz and other patriotic songs. Some of them raised Iraqi flags and pictures of Iraqi soldiers crushing snakes that symbolize terrorism in Iraq.
Samir Ali, 34, said while distributing candy in al-Azamiya, "It is not important who will win or who will take over power in Iraq as long as it is the Iraqis who chose them. We shall accept them because we trust that all Iraqis are in the same boat and have the same aspirations and dreams."
"The most important thing is that we participated and helped make the election a success," Ali added.
Meanwhile, Diyala province also erupted in celebrations as Iraqis spilled onto the streets amidst singing and dancing processions.
"This is the first time that I participated in an election," said Dhikra Haddad, 18. "I gave my vote to the one I trust will address the problems of youth and unemployment and won't discriminate between Iraqis on the basis of sect or denomination."
"I'm confident that the election will produce an Iraqi parliament and government chosen by the people according to a free mechanism," Haddad added.
The cities of Tarmiya, Fallujah and Madaaen witnessed tribal celebrations after the Independent High Electoral Commission announced the high voter turnout for the election. Both Dabke and drum parties were held in those areas since the early morning hours. Tribal sheikhs bid farewell to the army forces that withdrew from their positions inside cities after they provided protection to voters and polling centres.
The Iraqi government had deployed more than 900,000 security elements in all Iraqi cities and villages to assist with the election security plan.
"We're celebrating in spite of the terrorists," said Sheikh Jabbar Abdullah, chief of al-Mishahda tribe. "We will continue to do so, and no one will dare take our happiness away from us."
He added, "We thank the army forces for their deployment and for preventing the killers from spilling the blood of our sons. We also thank the clerics who contributed to the success of the election by urging the citizens to participate."
"The previous election was different from this year's election because al-Qaeda was oppressing us and preventing us from living our lives and silencing our voices. But today, all Iraqis participated in the election," Abdullah said.
Saadiya al-Waleed, 77, a resident of Samarra, said "I decided to participate for the sake of my grandchildren so that they may live in peace and comfort in the new Iraq and so that my conscience may be relieved knowing that I fought against terrorism by casting my vote."