Saddam is dead…

…and so why am I sad?

I think that few would disagree with the statement that Saddam Hussein was an evil, selfish, murderous individual who had either personally killed or authorised the killings of thousands of people, many innocent. So why do I feel sadness and apprehension at his death?

In the end, we all die, some more peacefully than others. Hanging is not a pleasant way to go: even if it’s done swiftly, I’m certain that the instant between the trap door opening and the snapping of the neck seems like an eternity. Saddam is said to have shown fear as he was led into the death chamber. Who wouldn’t?

What makes me sad is that this act, finally, shows us what we are as a society. America and Britain went into Iraq on a spurious report of weapons of mass destruction, took on an army that was unprepared and unorganised, routed it, drove Saddam into hiding for many months, and then stood by and guarded him while the Iraqis tried him (and judges and lawyers lost their lives prosecuting and defending him), convicted him (would any Iraqi court have acquitted him?), sentenced him to hang, and then waited outside the death chamber while the Iraqis themselves carried out the sentence, for fear that the US and Britain would be associated with the final chapter in his life.

This happened while the call to morning prayer rang out from the minarets of Baghdad. Saddam carried a Qu’ran into the chamber and then handed it to someone asking that it be given to a friend. He shouted the Muslim statement of faith before the noose was placed around his neck. He will be accounted by many in Iraq as a shahid, a martyr.

The civil war in Iraq will get worse. We will not be able to extricate ourselves without condemning many more thousands of Iraqis to death at the hands of fellow Iraqis in death squads.

Who then will pay for those murders? You can only hang a person once, you know.

My faith tells me that capital punishment is wrong. No matter whether it’s Saddam Hussein, the Birdman of Alcatraz, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Rosenbergs, or any of the numerous murderers and criminals who have been executed in the past: it’s wrong. It never solves the problem, soothes the hurt, or brings back the victims. It just piles death onto death, and there is no sign it will end soon.

It will surely be a bumpy ride.

2 Responses to “Saddam is dead…”

  1. ruth_lawrence says:

    I also oppose capital punishment, and am Not Happy today, either.

  2. keith_london says:

    I’m not sad about it, nor happy. I didn’t think he looked fearful, but if he was fearful, then it’s a moment of revelation for him – for that fear multiplied hundreds of thousands of times in his victims. I think we should be grateful that Saddam was tried and the sentence carried out with some dignity. If they put him out in the streets, rest be assured that the mob would consider death too good for him, sadly. That is the sad part – human nature for bloodlust and revenge.