Sophia's Peace Work

Saturday, December 30, 2006

An Eid Present?

Over the past few days there was speculation that Saddam's execution we about to take place. Lawyers were voicing opinions in agreement or against. The Anfal case against him isn't even complete. Then today I woke up to the news that he had been executed at 6 am Baghdad time and the BBC, Al Jazerra and others are broadcasting footage to a subdued and black-coated Saddam being prepped and fitted for his noose by his hooded executioners. No actual images of the trap door opening and the sudden, inevitable snap, but the footage is no less unnerving for the clm and almost business-like process of the leading characters.

Today is the first day of the Eid Al Adha, the four day celebration marking the end of the Haj. While outside Iraq, the Arab world seems to be blaming the U.S. for the execution and reacting in shock and outrage to the fact that they chose the first day of a major Islamic holiday in which to do the deed, in Iraq many (those who suffered at the hands of the dictator) are calling it a "present for the Eid." I talked to one of my Iraqi co-workers and he said he had heard the news. "Yes," he said, "I am so happy."

Of course, as even President Bush has admitted, this doesn't change a thing. Americans, the news reporters are saying, will likely not react much to the death of Saddam. The war, and the President who got them into it, is very unpopular and Americans have come to believe that no good news ever comes out of Iraq now.

As for myself, as I am against the death penalty in principal, I'm sorry to see the execution take place. I agree with many that this really was more about revenge than justice. I believe that Saddam should not have been tried in Iraq. In the end, I think that he was killed with many questions left unanswered. Some Iraqi friends told me yesturday that this is one of the reasons why there was a rush to execute him and why there were certain cases that probably would never have been brought against him, because he would have been able to implicate the U.S. for its past behavior in Iraq.

Be that as it may, in the end, Saddam is now free of his accusers ... released into the hands of God, or the Devils ... or into oblivion.


  • Capital punishment is obviously a contentious issue in the post-modernized world (even if it is less so in The United States). But I think Middle Eastern culture and values are different enough to change the meaning and motivations of an execution. In fact, I wonder if this sensationalism of violence isn't part of the rift terrorists are exploiting between the two cultures.

    I think Sadaam's preservation wouldn't be understood by Iraqis as the act of compassion that other audiences would associate it with. Hardly any Iraqis are unaccustomed to violence, their country's history such as it is. Violence seems respected there on a very subconscious level as the means to maintain order. The lack of violence, therefore, may be misinterpreted as a lack of deterrent. Hence, in the absence of totalitarian rulership, the country has unraveled. I think, therefore, that - at this point - compassion would have been interpreted as weakness both of the occupation and of the new Iraqi government.

    That having been said, I am personally disgusted by capital punishment and I think that Sadaam's execution - no matter his crimes - was no less vile than any other. But then, I'm not Iraqi; I'm a delicate orchid that's become accustomed to the greenhouse of liberty.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 04, 2007 9:40 PM  

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