Saddam's execution coincides with holy day of forgiveness

United Press International
Dec. 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging early Saturday morning. Few Iraqis will shed any tears for him, or for his half-brother, who was executed a few minutes after him. But the timing could not be worse and the situation more precarious.
Saddam's execution comes as millions of Muslims around the world begin Saturday celebrating Eid al Ahda, or the feast of the sacrifice. This holiday commemorates the time when God told Abraham -- who is also revered by Muslims -- to spare his son Isaac and to slaughter a sheep instead.

The death by hanging sentence on Saddam Hussein, carried out during this period of holy feast in the Muslim world could be seen by millions of Muslims as making a Martyr out of the former Iraqi dictator.

Additionally, this would all be taking place at the same time when several tens of millions of Muslims converge on Saudi Arabia to perform one of the seven pillars of Islam, the sacred pilgrimage -- or the hajj -- to Mecca. The news of Saddam's hanging could stir emotions among the large numbers of worshipers gathered in the Saudi Arabian holy city. It wouldn't take much of a spark to ignite a riot among the millions of pilgrims gathered in Islam's holiest of cities.

It's hard to imagine that the powers that be in Iraq, both Iraqis and Americans failed to take into account the Hajj and the Eid. If they did take the feast of Ahda into consideration and still chose to proceed with the execution, then they are either completely ignorant of local customs and norms, or if they did not consider the potent mixture of the Hajj, the Eid and the sentencing, then they are total fools. And fools can be dangerous.

What follows next would be the beginning of a new and more violent chapter in Iraq's history.

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