A week ago an Iranian student emailed me. He was angry that I had written something negative about Saddam. He called Saddam a hero. I was surprised, not because he likes Saddam (there are many people who do). I was surprised because he’s Iranian. His country was at war with Iraq for nearly ten years.
I thought about the trip I took to Iraq in 2000, how safe Iraq was during that time. I thought about the honor that the Saudi King’s death is receiving, and the discrepancies and double standards in politics. I thought about the following facts:
- Protected Christians and encouraged women to wear western clothing (women were not veiled in Baghdad and those few who were only covered their hair)
- Received the keys to the city of Detroit in 1980 after donating substantial amounts of money to a church in the city.helping build Chaldean churches
- Credited with creating one of the strongest school systems in the Middle East.
- Iraq won a UNESCO prize for eradicating illiteracy in 1982. Literacy rates for women were among the highest of all Islamic nations, and unlike most Middle East school systems, Iraqi education was largely secular.
- Hated Osama Bin Laden
- There were no terrorist groups inside Iraq while he was in power
- He did not gas his own people (CIA officer Stephen C. Pelletiere, the agency’s senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, wrote in a New York Times article that Saddam Hussein has much to answer for in the area of human rights abuses. ”But accusing him of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of war.” He also wrote that these facts have “long been in the public domain but, extraordinarily, as often as the Halabja affair is cited, they are rarely mentioned.”
- Permitted over 400 terrorist groups to exist in his country
- Locked up four of his daughters into dark and suffocating rooms since 2002
- Allowed beheading of citizens for crimes like apostasy and adultery
- Prohibited movie theaters, social mixing, music schools, gyms for girls and Valentine’s Day
- Prohibits women from traveling without permission or driving a car
- Bans other religions: twelve Filipino Christians and a priest were arrested while attending a service in a private home, in October 2010. They were verbally charged with ‘blaspheming against Islam” and cordially banned for life from Saudi Arabia (quiet deportations are a new tactic of the religious police – it avoids the media scrutiny that heavy-handed arrests generate).
- Allows anti-American hate speeches in their mosques