THE OFFENSIVE TIMING OF SADDAM'S HANGING
December 31, 2006
In breath-taking audacity and sheer disrespect the Iraqi government, supported by the Bush administration, managed to insult the entire Muslim community in a single act by executing Saddam Hussein on Eid Al-Adha.
Like a sacrificial lamb, Iraq executed Hussein at the time of Fajr (dawn) prayers. He had been convicted of crimes against humanity.
The execution at the start of Eid is highly symbolic. The feast marks the sacrifice the Prophet Abraham was prepared to make when God ordered him to slaughter his son. While many Iraqis could regard Saddam’s death as a gift from God, such symbolism will further anger most of the Muslim World.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke for millions of Muslims when he heard of the execution. “We wish to say that Eid is a day of happiness and reconciliation. It is not a day for revenge,’’ Karzai told reporters at the presidential palace after offering Eid prayers at Kabul’s main mosque.
A pilgrim performing Haj in Makkah expressed the emotions of many Muslims. “His execution on the day of Eid . . . is an insult to all Muslims,” said Jordanian pilgrim Nidal Mohammad Salah.
The logic of executing Hussein on the Eid day defies explanation . Whatever his sins -- and there were many -- Saddam Hussein was to many Arabs a courageous fighter who stood up to the U.S. government. And to execute a Muslim on Eid, when another week’s delay would have made no difference, makes little sense.
We won’t debate the merits of the case against Hussein or whether he deserved to die for his crimes. But surely the Iraqi and American governments were well aware of the message they were sending when they decided that the former Iraq leader should die on this day.
The consequences of this insult are still not clear. Violence in Iraq is so unpredictable that it is impossible to consider the implications.
What we have, though, are leaders of this lawless country who are so dysfunctional and so beholden to the country’s occupiers that they failed to recognize the insult hurled on its own religion.