CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – Another leaked video from Saddam Hussein’s execution carried fresh adulation yesterday of the fallen dictator, who in death has become a martyr and hero of Arab nationalism for some in the Middle East.
Saddam’s stature has grown since his execution – when he answered insults and taunts with disdain – overshadowing the memories in much of the Arab world of the massacres and other atrocities committed by his regime.
The new video, showing Saddam’s corpse with a gaping neck wound, was posted on the Internet early today. It was apparently shot with a camera phone minutes after he was hanged Dec. 30.
“A new film of the late immortal martyr, President Saddam Hussein,” the web site said in a headline over a link to the video.
The independent Egyptian newspaper Al-Karama splashed Saddam’s photo over a full page Monday, with an Iraqi flag behind him, declaring him an “Arab martyr.”
“He lived as hero, died as a man,” another Egyptian opposition newspaper, Al-Osboa, proclaimed in a headline, showing a photo of Saddam at the gallows.
The praise has angered the governments of Iraq and Kuwait, which Saddam’s soldiers invaded in 1990. On Monday, Kuwaiti lawmakers denounced Arab countries where Saddam has been lauded as a hero and demanded the government reconsider ties and financial aid to them.
Indignation over the execution in the Sunni Arab world has increased resentment of the United States and Iraq’s Shiite-led government. It could fuel support for Iraq’s Sunni insurgency and complicate U.S. efforts to enlist Arab nations in efforts to reconcile Iraq’s warring Sunni and Shiite communities.
In large part, it was the unruly scene at the gallows that catapulted Saddam to hero’s status. In video footage smuggled out of the execution room, Shiite executioners are heard shouting curses at Saddam – who stands erect, and smiles contemptuously. “Is this manly?” he retorts.
The latest video seems only to have aggravated the anger provoked by the earlier video.
Saddam’s iconic exeuction has, it seems, come to symbolize dignified Arab resistance in the face of humiliation at the hands of a Shiite government.
Some Arabs regard that government as illegitimate because it is backed by the U.S. military and closely allied to mainly Shiite Iran.
Some media reports compared Saddam to another hero of Arab nationalism who opposed Western domination: Omar al-Mokhtar, the leader of resistance against Italy’s military occupation of Libya. He was executed by hanging in 1931.
Egypt’s nationalist weekly newspaper Al-Arabi published a cartoon Sunday showing an open book with pictures of Saddam and al-Mokhtar on facing pages.