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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Modern Media: A Blindfold

Modern Media: A Blindfold
Modern Media: A Blindfold

Last week, I looked at Saddam Hussein’s photo in the newspaper and had this little feeling for him. It was for a very short moment, and I quickly forced myself to stop looking at him. Who exactly did I see in the picture? I saw a man, with salt-and-pepper beard and hair, a broken face with slightly swollen eyelids, a sense of loss on his face, a sort of fatherly manner sparking from his eyes. When I joined his face with the fact that he had been once a leader of a country, I felt some sort of empathy for him.

Many people in the Middle East might have the same feeling for Saddam as I, for a moment, had. Their feelings for him might be a little less disappointing, for they haven’t lived under his rule. As for me, I felt that I’ve been deceived.

I am a Kurd from Iraqi Kurdistan. I am one of those who have been gassed, genocided, raped, murdered, whose land had been occupied and destroyed by Saddam Hussein’s presidential orders. It took me four schools to finish my first grade (I actually couldn’t quite finish it at all) hiding from the regime. I lived four years of my childhood in exile under Iranian Red Crescent tents. I spent my adolescence under a brutal economical embargo because of him. For me, Saddam Hussein had been the devil himself, the villain of all nightmares. For me as a kid, no one was worse than Saddam Hussein, and comparisons for that matter were always made with him. Compared to most other Kurdish children and families, my family and I had been among the luckiest.

Then why did I have sympathy for him, if even for few seconds? If this was my case, then what about those to whom Saddam Hussein had been the powerful leader and the “Sword of the Arab Nation?”

When I look at Saddam’s trial photos, I try hard to see the face that I best know of him and not his current one. A handsome man with coal-dyed moustache and clean chin, a proud smile full of grace and power, a smoking Cuban between his lips, full-bodied in a green military uniform surrounded by bodyguards, waving with his left hand to thousands of hopping “supporters” who filled the sky with shouts: “We ransom our blood; we sacrifice our lives for you Saddam.”

This was how Iraqis have known Saddam Hussein. This was the man who had destroyed the Iraqi people. This was the figure of villainy I knew as a child.

Saddam Hussein knows well how he looked back then and how he imprinted his image in the mind of the Iraqis as well as of the rest of the world. Now he has changed his image. He is not shaving his chin, not wearing the uniform, his vicious smile no longer on his lips. Not only that, he has a copy of the Noble Quran on his lap, reading it from time to time, shouting “God is great” when he is aggravated. His co-defendants are wearing typical Arabic outfits, and show themselves as innocent lambs, as symbols of the Arab nation that are trialed by the occupying forces. Those defendants know well that empathetic people are watching them. They know that the oppressed people of the Middle East are eager to follow anything that moves, anyone that says something, which might soothe their hearts a little. They compare Saddam, waving his index finger in the face of the judges while shouting fiery statements against the occupation, to their own deaf-and-dumb leaders who bark on and bite only their own people.

Even under trial, Saddam Hussein’s use of media for deceit hasn’t stopped. Only the other week someone asked me about the trial and said, “What if Saddam repented for what he has done?”

My answer to him was a blank smile and a raging, yet disappointed, heart.