Remarks by Zainab al-Suwaij as prepared for delivery at the 2004 Republican National Convention on Monday, August 30:

Thank you for your kind welcome.

From my heart, I offer you the traditional Muslim greeting: As Salam Alaikum — Peace be upon you.

I am honored to stand here tonight. When I came to the United States from Iraq 12 years ago, I would never have imagined myself speaking to a group like this.

Living under Saddam Hussein, we could not gather as we do now to discuss things like democracy and freedom.

We could only dream of a day when we could speak freely, and worship God in ways of our own choosing.

Instead, we lived under a murderer who used every weapon in his arsenal against us — from tanks to torture chambers to poison gas.

When people talk about the war in Iraq — I want to remind them that there has been a war raging in Iraq for the last 3 decades.

A war waged by Saddam against his own people.

I lived through it. I saw it brutalize my friends and my family.

But today, I come to tell you that Iraq enjoys a new day.

Yes, there is still bloodshed and uncertainty — but America, under the strong, compassionate leadership of President Bush, has given Iraqis the most precious gift any nation has ever given another — the gift of democracy and the freedom to determine its own future.

Already, the seeds of democracy are bearing fruit — with popular elections recently held for local officials. And we know our children face a brighter future.

So as I grieve for the courageous Americans and Iraqis who were killed and injured during Iraq's liberation, I tell you proudly that their noble sacrifice was not in vain.

As Iraqis assume full sovereignty, they embrace the American people in friendship and gratitude.

I promise you: we will never forget what your sons and daughters did for us.

Thank you.