AT-TUWANI REFLECTION: The death of Saddam

16 January 2006

AT-TUWANI REFLECTION: The death of Saddam

On the morning Saddam Hussein was executed, I was in a mosque in the West
Bank for Eid prayers on one of the most important days of the Muslim
calendar. The sermon was about the execution of Saddam Hussein and how
offensive that was to Muslims. Muslims I know took the execution of an Arab
leader as a slap in the face, and doing it during the Feast of Sacrifice
added insult to injury. I was the only American present among the maybe 400
Muslims listening to a harsh criticism of America, but I never felt
uncomfortable or unsafe. People there greeted me warmly after the prayers.

One person said, "There are many evil leaders in the world that the U S
supports. Why do they single out Saddam?" Some Palestinians are attempting
to portray Saddam as a martyr. Posters of Saddam are appearing in many

Palestinians repeatedly ask me to give my opinion about Saddam-not an easy
question. First, I recognize the common perception that Saddam was the one
Arab leader who stood up to America and for that reason was overthrown and
killed. I then always point out that Saddam, like many other world leaders,
was brutal, killed huge numbers of Muslims, and that he was not the kind of
leader I want. I then try to talk about alternatives to war, occupation,
and domination.

>From the vantage point of Palestine, the execution of Saddam is inflaming
tensions in the Middle East, further dividing people, especially Sunni and
Shia, and making the coming of peace more difficult. Maybe now would be a
good time for the world to seek a new direction.