I am not among those who shed tears on the execution of the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein. The world is better off without that champion of secularism and socialism who proved his credentials by the wholesale slaughter of religious Muslims and the destruction of freedom of trade in his country. If God treats him as he deserves, then he deserves it, and if he treats him with mercy, He is the most merciful. Yet, I am haunted by questions about the Iraqi government’s decision to execute him at just this moment in time.
Why was he executed on the Eid al Adha, the high holy day of Islam when Iraqi law had given it thirty days from which to choose? Why was he punished for the slaughter of 148 men and boys he had accused of conspiring to assassinate him, without waiting for a verdict on the even more appalling charges of murdering men, women and children in acts of ethnic cleansing merely for being Kurds or Shi`a?
What message did the government of Iraq wish to convey to the world? Was it to prove to the world that Muslims have not a mustard seed of mercy, not even enough to let the condemned man’s death be postponed until after the three-day holiday? (I doubt that even Texas, the state that executes more people than any other, executes murderers on Christmas.) Or was it, as Robert Fiske charges, to prevent the trial of Saddam on the more serious charges from revealing to the world just who provided him with the poison gas with which he did the dirty deeds? Or was it meant as some dark parody of the Eid holiday? Did the Iraqi government, perverting Prophet Abraham’s (pbuh) devotion to God (Exalted and Supreme) in which he offered his beloved and pure son (pbuh) in sacrifice to the One true God, offer up its son—a despised and violent son, yet nonetheless a son of its soil—in sacrifice to a false god? And, unlike the merciful God who substituted a lamb for the proffered son of Abraham, would this false god worshipped by the Iraqi government accept no substitutes and no delay, but wanted the blood of this man on this holy day that the government of Iraq might declare to the world that it would on this day honor not Abraham’s God, but some other power to which it had offered a partnership in divinity? I do not know the answers to these questions, but they haunt me and I am compelled to ask.