Monday, January 1, 2007

The Shi'ites Have Their Revenge

by Loretta Napoleoni

"The execution of Saddam Hussein took place at the beginning of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim religious feast that marks the sacrifice the prophet Abraham was prepared to make when God ordered him to kill his son. The symbolism is powerful but twofold: while Iraqi Shi'ites will regard Saddam's death as a sign that God backs their leadership, Sunnis may see Saddam as a martyr. Eid al-Adha is celebrated with the slaughter of a lamb, representing the innocent blood of the young Ishmael, which Abraham was willing to shed in the name of God.....

In the new Iraq, however, the ruling Shi'ites seem to ignore the concerns of other ethnic groups. Behind this rushed execution there is the long shadow of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shi'ite cleric who controls about 30 members of parliament. This a key support group for the shaky Maliki government. Iraqi sources confirm that it was the most radical Shi'ites in the Iraqi parliament who demanded the execution be performed on such an important religious holiday. The purpose was not to carry out justice but to satisfy the need for revenge, revenge for Saddam's persecution of the Shi'ites and, at the same time, for the ongoing Sunni suicide missions. This feeling of revenge is evident in the street celebrations in Sadr City, as well as those among Iraqi exiles in the United States.......

Killing Saddam on the eve of the Eid will ensure that each year when the feast is about to start his followers will remember and celebrate him as a martyr. His death will not be linked with the victory of the Shi'ites in Iraq but with the slaughter of the innocent lamb. His legacy will last forever in the imagination of Sunni Muslims. Sadr may use the execution in his inflammatory sermons, he may claim victory to his followers, but it will be a short victory, as short as the one claimed by George Bush beneath the "Mission Accomplished" banner. Revenge is not a good route to peace and democracy, a lesson we are about to learn once more."

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