CITIZEN MOM REPORTS: I saw most of the video — CNN froze it at the moment the platform dropped — as it broke Friday night. I remember feeling glad that even Saddam, the despicable and murderous, had someone urging dignity at his moment of death. When a group of men in the crowd taunted the condemned man by chanting the name of Muqtada al-Sadr, an Iraqi prosecutor spoke up, pleading for some respect for the dead (or the about to be). Never was there a more made-for-al Jazeera moment: Justice meets vengeance meets brutality. This was very much NOT a U.S. operation, which would have looked more like Timothy McVeigh’s execution, a task dispatched with in a sterile chamber in the bowels of a maximum-security facility. What’s missing from many of the stories that moved Tuesday is a thorough description of how Saddam acted in those few minutes. The first reports called him “strangely passive,” and suggested a broken man.
Men crowd around Saddam on the platform, as he stands with the noose around his neck. They begin taunting him, condemning him to hell. Saddam glares at them, and says something to the effect of “You call yourselves men?” Then they start chanting “Muqtada! Muqtada!” and just before the guy starts hollering for them to stop, Saddam sneeringly repeats their taunt back to them: “Muqtada, Muqtada.” More badass than broken man, from what I saw. Then, as the room falls quiet, Saddam begins praying: I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet, I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet...Freeze.
Haven’t watched it since, and don’t want to see the actual moment. From where I sit, watching those final few minutes told me everything — the actual death itself is a given. And I’m glad I did watch, but not in some “Faces of Death” sicko kind of way. As a Christian, and maybe as an American, maybe it’s right to feel both relieved that Saddam is dead and also glad he received some of the mercy his brutal regime denied millions of Iraqis and Kurds. That in that last minute, someone was urging peace and mercy. Saddam died not a broken man, but one who had made peace with his own death. How many of his victims were given the dignity of a prayerful demise, the time to make a reckoning before their last breath? How many of them died slowly, painfully, cruelly, not in the blink of a camera’s eye? Maybe the ultimate mercy in these times is to die a private death.
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