Baghdad's Obama bakery cooks up "hope and change"

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BAGHDAD (Reuters Life!) - The day Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential election, Hassan Ala’uddin repainted the sign over on his Baghdad pastry shop, dreaming a little Obama magic would come Iraq’s way -- or at least help sell cakes.

“When we saw he won on hope and change for America, we hoped he could bring some of that to Iraq too,” said Ala’uddin, whose central Baghdad Salhiya Bakery and Pastry Shop now has the additional name “OBAMA” emblazoned in red letters out front.

Many Iraqis say they hope Obama will herald a sea-change from the policies of incumbent U.S. President George W. Bush after years of sectarian war that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Iraqi politicians are hopeful Obama will fulfil his pledge to pull U.S. troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

“We’re celebrating the new American leadership. Hopefully there will be change. Bush brought nothing to Iraq but war and destruction,” Ala’uddin said.

The shop is even working on a new Obama cake. Ala’uddin said two ingredients in the new recipe would be “hope and change.”

But so far, he said, sales are still the same.

Reporting by Mohammed Abbas: Editing by Paul Casciato