January 02, 2007

Comments on the Saddam execution

I've just seen two separate comments on the Saddam execution from women I know through Arab Media Watch. The first is by Gharda Karmi in today's Guardian and on the comment is free space:
The spectacle of Saddam Hussein's execution, shown in pornographic detail to the whole world, was deeply shocking to those of us who respect propriety and human dignity. The vengeful Shia mob that was allowed to taunt the man's last moments, and the vicious executioners who released the trapdoor while he was saying his prayers, turned this scene of so-called Iraqi justice into a public lynching. One does not have to be any kind of Saddam sympathiser to be horrified that he should have been executed - and, so obscenely, on the dawn of Islam's holy feast of Eid al-Adha, which flagrantly defies religious practice and was an affront to the Islamic world.
The second is a letter in today's Independent by Tahrir Swift:
Sir: I never thought I would hear myself objecting to exacting punishment on the former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. Two of my cousins were killed, members of my family were tortured by Saddam's government, members of my immediate and extended family were exiled. Yet, I feel that executing the president of Iraq after a flawed trial "marred by political interference", as Human Rights Watch stated, is a betrayal for all the Iraqi people, not just Saddam's victims.

What took place is a politically motivated show trial fit for a dictatorship. Why was the sentence not delayed until Saddam finished facing the charges over the gassing at Halabjah? This incident was often cited as a pretext for Bush and Blair's war on Iraq. What are the reasons for the urgent need to silence him?

Whenever I hear Bush and Blair's self-congratulatory claims that progress in Iraq is being made while the situation continues to deteriorate, I am reminded of Saddam's post-1991 war speech in which he calls on the people to rejoice as they have emerged victorious from this war.

Iraqis are living in an endless nightmare, fearing for their lives, inside their homes, outside their homes, in their place of work, in their markets, and in their own neighbourhoods. Iraqi towns and villages are being bombed from the air still, as an act of collective punishment on the pretext of "fighting terrorism". I believe a similar excuse was given by Saddam when he attacked Kurdish villages.

Three million Iraqis are displaced both internally and outside Iraq according to the UN. Iraqis top the league table for asylum-seeking in the West. I do not dare to think what would Iraq be like when the "job is done" as Blair and Bush wish.


Ghada Karmi is a research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter and Tahrir Swift is a director of Arab Media Watch.


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