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[casi] Saddam's blood, Orientalism and giving 'em the old razzle-dazzle

This is slightly off topic, but I think it is such an illuminating article about western attitudes 
towards Islam and propaganda that it is well worth bringing to people's attention.

The article can be found here

The story alledges that Saddam Hussein had a Koran written in his own blood that is not causing 
great anxiety among clerics as they can not permit themselves the blasphemy of destroying it yet 
its very existence is a blasphemy.

It would be as no surprise to anyone here that I think the story is a particularly mindless 
fabrication verging on unpleasant racism.  It makes very clear the freedom and absolute confidence 
that journalists have to indulge in any kind of fantasy knowing they will not be called to account 
or exposed.  Again we can see the double standard where the media indulge in every kind of 
sensationalist accusation against the Hussein family, yet stay absolutely silent as an obvious 
imposter (in no way could he be described as a "lookalike") is paraded on our TV screens as a 
captured Saddam Hussein.

The story of the Koran is Saddam Husseins blood is a long one with many permutations in the media 
starting with the BBC in 2000
It show pictures purporting to be the Koran of blood, however another story in early 2003 from an 
American network also claims to show the infamous Koran (click on the photo for an 
expanded image)
Even a cursory examination shows the calligraphy of the two Korans are quite different - in reality 
both Korans are probably Korans of some significance, but written in normal ink.

(People interested in propaganda might also enjoy the picture of the mosque contained on the cbs 
news site.  We are informed that 4 of the minarets were designed to look like Kalashnikov barrels 
and another 4 designed to look like Scud missiles.  To me they look like fairly standard minarets 
albeit in a slightly modernist style.  Certainly none of them look like Kalashnikovs, it is 
possible to argue they look like Scud missiles, but then any minaret looks like a Scud missile.)

Returning to the original article, it is full with attitudes that can only be described as 
Orientalism.  Clerics are shown as engaging in medieval type discussions about blasphemy, scholars 
are describe as "weeping"
"It is explicitly haram (forbidden) to have done it in blood and, as my interpreter observed drily, 
every six-year-old Muslim knows this."  Quite, I am sure it is taught in every Islamic kindergarten.

"When it was done, Saddam said that if he had known it was not acceptable to have it written in 
blood he would never have dared to do it. If it was just the president's blood we could not 
possibly keep it, but other ingredients [stabilising chemicals] were added and they have dissolved 
the impurity of his blood."

"This is Saddam's black magic. The Koran is about gold and silver, not something as impure as 
blood. It can be burnt or it can be thrown in the river. I would throw it in the river."

"Scholars wept, but now a committee of 25 Muslim thinkers will decide if this lonely survivor 
should also have been burnt.
Their task is not easy because of an appalling contradiction. It is heretical to render the Koran 
in blood, an impurity that should be washed away. On the other hand, the Koran defines absolutely 
Muslims' religious beliefs and culture - it cannot be destroyed."

I think the term Orientalism is quite appropriate for theis kind creative writing.

Probably the key to the article is the revelation that the Koran is now in "hiding" and may not be 
photographed and only viewed if one has special permission. In other words an untidy relic of the 
propaganda blitz of the Saddam era has been tidied away.  Perhaps the curious with long memories 
might have expressed some curiousity about the blood written Koran and wondered where it was.  Now 
they can be told it was "blasphemous", in "hiding" or destroyed.

Which is a shame, as a Koran written in Saddam´s blood would have been perfect for a DNA test on 
whatever strange being the US have managed to cajole into custody.  I was thinking of a DNA test 
that took a little longer than 12 hours to perform.  A DNA test that was performed at a known and 
recognised laboratory and which issued a verifiable report.  It has been claimed, for example, that 
modern laboratories in America can perform a DNA test within a 12 hour period if urgent - and 
certainly they can, but that is 12 hours from when they receive the sample.  Hardly the case when 
you find a suspect late at night deep in rural Iraq (complete with fruiting date palms) in a 
country with no known DNA testing facilities.  Some kind of explanation might be thought to be in 

Which brings me finally to the kind of trial the look-unalike Saddam can expect.  My guess is we 
wont be seeing an Milosevic style televised tribunal.  There has been suggestions it should be an 
Islamic trial - note the assumption that Iraq is inevitably going to move from a secular (albeit 
corrupt) justice system to one based on religious principles.  Is that really what Iraqis want, a 
Sharia based system?  I wonder.

Nevertheless, with Saddam I expect that is more or less what will happen.  Some kind of trial 
behind closed doors (or to approved journalists which is effectively the same thing).  The hearing 
will rely heavily on "eyewitness" testimony consisent with the revisionist history that the new 
regime is wishing to promote.  What defence will be put up one can only guess.  A death sentence 
will be pronounced - although I doubt that the surrogate Saddam will be required to undertake it.  
And another member of the Hussein family will have been safely tidied away.  By which time Iraq 
will have already descended into its next stage of misery and unrest and noone will much care.

Reminds me of the song from the musical Chicago Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle

"Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?

Razzle dazzle 'em
And they;ll never catch wise!"

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