Iraqis fete curfew end with flags, horns and tyre smoke

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Iraqis roared through central Baghdad in dozens of cars flying flags, honking horns and filling the street with smoke from their screeching tyres to celebrate the end of a years-old nightly curfew.

“Long live Iraq!”, one young man shouted while hanging out the window of a passing car early on Sunday morning.

It was the first night in years that Baghdad residents could stay out as late as they wished, after Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi ordered an end to the long-running curfew that had most recently lasted from midnight to 5:00 am (1800 to 0200 GMT).

And while most residents stayed at home, some chose to mark the occasion in a more lively fashion.

Young men made up the majority of the revellers, many of them driving American muscle cars with big engines and loud exhausts, but some families also turned out to celebrate by driving when they previously could not.

Security forces members who once stopped drivers out past curfew instead stood by and watched the show, though one young man fell afoul of the authorities for performing a burnout outside a hotel in his Dodge Challenger, the tyres shrieking and spilling smoke as they spun around.

After being chastised, he sped away, turned around and proceeded to repeat the manoeuvre on the other side of the street.

Dozens of drivers parked in a long line on one side of Jadriyah bridge, with some young men dancing to music blaring from speakers in their cars.

The gathering was organised over Facebook to celebrate the end of the curfew, said Ali Majid Mohsen, a student driving a silver Dodge Charger with an Iraqi flag flying from one side.

On Karrada Dakhil, a main shopping street in central Baghdad, a group of men sat smoking water pipes in front of a cafe after midnight.