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The New Saddam
Oops! Seems we made a martyr (duh!). Hassan M. Fattah writes in The New York Times of the new way the Arab world is looking at Saddam:

In the week since Saddam Hussein was hanged in an execution steeped in sectarian overtones, his public image in the Arab world, formerly that of a convicted dictator, has undergone a resurgence of admiration and awe.

On the streets, in newspapers and over the Internet, Mr. Hussein has emerged as a Sunni Arab hero who stood calm and composed as his Shiite executioners tormented and abused him.

“No one will ever forget the way in which Saddam was executed,” President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt remarked in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot published Friday and distributed by the official Egyptian news agency. “They turned him into a martyr.”

In Libya, which canceled celebrations of the feast of Id al-Adha after the execution, a government statement said a statue depicting Mr. Hussein in the gallows would be erected, along with a monument to Omar al-Mukhtar, who resisted the Italian invasion of Libya and was hanged by the Italians in 1931.

In Morocco and the Palestinian territories, demonstrators held aloft photographs of Mr. Hussein and condemned the United States.

Here in Beirut, hundreds of members of the Lebanese Baath Party and Palestinian activists marched Friday in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood behind a symbolic coffin representing that of Mr. Hussein and later offered a funeral prayer. Photographs of Mr. Hussein standing up in court, against a backdrop of the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem, were pasted on city walls near Palestinian refugee camps, praising “Saddam the martyr.”

“God damn America and its spies,” a banner across one major Beirut thoroughfare read. “Our condolences to the nation for the assassination of Saddam, and victory to the Iraqi resistance.”

By standing up to the United States and its client government in Baghdad and dying with seeming dignity, Mr. Hussein appears to have been virtually cleansed of his past.

“Suddenly we forgot that he was a dictator and that he killed thousands of people,” said Roula Haddad, 33, a Lebanese Christian. “All our hatred for him suddenly turned into sympathy, sympathy with someone who was treated unjustly by an occupation force and its collaborators.”

Was this really that hard to predict? Well, at least we're finally uniting the Arab world!

Posted by aalkon at January 6, 2007 10:51 AM

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Amy. Please. Did you expect the New York Times to say anything else?

Posted by: Crid at January 6, 2007 8:14 AM

Forget where it was printed -- wasn't this pretty predictable?

And are you saying the story is incorrect?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 6, 2007 8:54 AM

> Forget where it was printed


That's the point, it was entirely predictable-- in the New York Times!

I'm saying that a story like that is useless, useless in terms of judging how Saddam's death will affect outcomes in the Arab and Muslim worlds. It brings no perspective - none.

Posted by: Crid at January 6, 2007 9:08 AM

The interviewees were cherry picked. Did they interview any Iranians? How about Kurds or South Iraqi Shiites? The Lebanese demonstration they mentioned was by the Lebanese Ba'ath party, of course they are against his execution!

I agree with Crid on this one "It brings no perspective - none."

Posted by: winston at January 6, 2007 9:58 AM

If somebody brought up something from the Bible and told you, "Forget where it's printed..."

Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 6, 2007 11:02 AM

Martyrs are a dime a dozen in the Middle East.

Posted by: Fritz at January 6, 2007 2:14 PM

Not everything from the Bible or religion is utter shit. For example, "Do unto others..." is good and wise advice. The thing about stoning your neighbors if they mix fabrics, well, I'm not really down with that.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 6, 2007 2:27 PM

As for who they did and didn't interview, it doesn't matter that a some people in the Arab world are thrilled about the execution of Saddam. Of course he's become a martyr for those who feed off such things.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 6, 2007 2:45 PM

He may have become a martyr for some, but had he not been executed there are those that would always hold out hope for his return.

It was not up to the United States to make the decision as to Saddam's fate. He was tried and found guilty in an Iraqi court of the mass murder of Iraqis. His guilt in not in doubt. He was executed by Iraqis.

If Bin Laden were executed for 9/11 he would undoubtedly become a martyr. Should that fact spare his life if he's ever caught?

Posted by: winston at January 6, 2007 4:39 PM

> good and wise advice.

Similarly, we can trust the NYT to correctly list movie times.

(Does the NYT list movie times?)

Posted by: Crid at January 6, 2007 5:27 PM

Bin Laden attacked us, and we're in the right to capture, try and punish him...although I'm in favor of life in prison with hard labor, and not capital punishment for anyone.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 6, 2007 5:47 PM

The hanging was botched as spectacle, it's true. And I'm not a death penalty supporter, either. But if this is the reaction of "many in the Arab world," all I can say is Screw Many. As for your point about their reaction being predictable, it's not a point at all. They will look for any incident on which to peg their hatred for the US and Israel, and what you are arguing, in effect, is that we ought to accede to that irrationality. I think it's a very poor idea.

They choose to make a martyr out of Saddam, but the Muslim cleric in this story is a tool?

All I can say is, it's a strange choice of martyr.

Posted by: Dan Collins at January 6, 2007 7:01 PM

Not hard to predict. My husband and I were talking about it on the day of. It would have been smarter to put him in jail for 2000 life sentances.

Posted by: Myra at January 6, 2007 7:12 PM

No matter what was done to Saddam he'd be a rallying cry. Alive, the Sunni hold out hope for his return, and the renewal of Sunni rule of Iraq. Dead, he's a martyr; used to energize the Sunni in their continued attempt to undermine the government of Iraq and put themselves back in power.

We're not dealing with people who are rational by Western standards. Trying to do things that we perceive as rational in order to influence middle east policy is useless.

The calculus is as simple as it is brutal. Killing Saddam cuts off the head of the Ba'ath party and their hopes of ascension to power. The martyr game is their last hope to rally support for their cause before the Shi'a wipe them off the face of the Earth. They have consistently blown every chance they had to reconcile with the Shi'a. The Sunni's last hope of revival as the ruling power of Iraq died on the gallows with Saddam.

Posted by: brian at January 6, 2007 7:37 PM

Saddam was tired in an Iraqi court - the prosocution whithed evidence from the defence for as long as possible, judges were killed lawyers were killed, judges were REPLACED if they were thought to be too leneint twords Saddam. He was not allowed to call witness in his defense.

Now lets not forget he was tried for executing people from villiage where he was almost killed.

Why wasnt he tried for war crimes for his action during the Iraq-Iran war? Why wasnt he tried for crimes against humanity for his actions in gassing his own people? invading kuwait?

Whay wasnt he brought before the world courtand made to answer for his crimes? Because our government didnt want him running his trap about who supplied him with WMD's or what businesses (haliburton) were trading with him in violation of UN sactions.

Quite frankly the guy deserved far worse fate then a long drop and a short stop - but please dont delude yourselves in to thinking it was justice, when all they did was silent a witness to much larger crimes then he was executed for.

Posted by: at January 7, 2007 2:26 AM

Lujlp's right, but it's hard to imagine that they're could ever be a satisfying, neatly-administered prosecution of someone like that which could be satisfying to anybody, when the government is so shaky. Trials are often not that satisfying anyway. Quick, name three famous trials where everyone walked away convinced that justice was served. McVeigh? Enron?

> It would have been smarter to put
> him in jail for 2000 life sentances.

Having no expertise, it sometimes seems like "throwing away the key" doesn't happen in a lot of the world... People won't believe it's real when the justice system is less stable than ours. (Ours!) When you want to stop certain processes, people have to die. I've read that Ariel Sharon has bitter enemies who won't say bad things about him because he's still alive. He's been in a coma for a year.

> Trying to do things that we perceive
> as rational in order to influence
> middle east policy is useless.

But it helps us sleep at night.

It's not like we have any other choice.

Posted by: Crid at January 7, 2007 3:18 AM

Crid Johnson's right.

When we found him in the spider hole, justice should have been meted out with a grenade or cement truck. Instead we make him look like he walked out of Emporio Armani and give him a couple months of public speaking time.

Nobody seems to be missing Uday or Qusay much, and they at least went out in a fight.

Posted by: eric at January 7, 2007 8:55 AM

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Posted by: livesex list at January 23, 2007 1:39 PM

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