Saddam's daughter attends protest in Jordan

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AMMAN, Jan 1 (Reuters) Saddam Hussein's eldest daughter Raghd today made a surprise visit to a sit-in held by hundreds of her father's Jordanian supporters to condemn his execution.

Hundreds of protesters including Islamists, deputies and opposition figures gathered in front of a building where a grouping of 14 professional unions is based, carrying pictures of Saddam and chanting anti-American and pro-Saddam slogans.

Raghd, who is exiled in Jordan, remained quiet throughout her short visit but used a loudspeaker to thank the participants for their support before leaving.

''I want to thank you for this show of support. May God protect you,'' she said.

One of the banners held by protesters read: ''Leader Saddam the father of martyrs''.

The former Iraqi president was hanged on Saturday for crimes against humanity.

Thousands of Arabs condemned the execution of Saddam, who was considered a hero for his tough political stance towards the United States and Israel.

Yesterday, dozens of Palestinians held a protest in Baqaa refugee camp north of Amman, following prayers which mourned Saddam's death.

In the southern city of Karak, a tent set up by Jordanian Saddam supporters welcomed thousands of sympathisers, organisers said.

Raghd and her children were granted asylum by King Abdullah in 2003 after she fled with her sister to Jordan after the US invasion of Iraq.

She took a leading role in organising her father's legal defence for his trial for crimes against humanity, and has been put on Iraq's 41 ''most wanted'' list.

But officials said Raghd had abided by a request not to use Jordan as a platform to make political statements to the media.

Reuters MS RN1924

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