(U-WIRE) MANHATTAN, Kan. Spending the past couple of decades amid the accusations that Saddam Hussein was such a brutal dictator, one would think Sunday’s death sentence would be no surprise. It all went exactly as we thought; Hussein was pulled from the hole, cleaned up, given a trial and promptly sentenced to death.
The only problem with this scenario: We’re dealing with an entirely different culture that’s not always going to see things our way. And, since we’re the ones making changes for it, I feel it’s important to try and walk in the others’ shoes.
Let’s start with a brief overview.
There are two main groups of Muslims in Iraq: The Sunni branch and the Shiite branch. The difference in their beliefs, for which they are willing to die, center on who should have been the successors of Muhammed.
Quite simplified, after Muhammed died, there were four caliphs installed to lead the Muslims, and the Sunnis were happy with this. However, the Shiites believe only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the true successors.
This all changed after World War I. At this time, the Ottoman Empire was dismantled, and the reign of the caliphs was ended. From the beginning of this break, there were disputes over territory and who should remain in power.
By the time Hussein worked his way into power, nothing was different. He had people executed and fought for the control of more land. Not exactly the leadership I’d want a country to have, but by remaining subservient, the people tacitly accepted it.
However, during the Anfal Campaign, Hussein did go too far. He committed genocide and faced the consequences. The world clearly agreed Hussein had been punished enough after the Gulf War, as it allowed him to remain in power.
This is why it’s so odd we needed to start a second war just to give Hussein a trial. The issue had been dropped, and the world moved on. The crusaders had no need to get involved again.
Then, as if an unnecessary trial wasn’t bad enough, the government we installed failed to present a trial that appeared even remotely fair.
Sure, it tried to retain our image of heroically putting an evil man to justice through the proper channels. However, he only was allowed to use Iraqi lawyers, and they were sure to install a Shiite judge, Abdullah al-Amiri, to decide the Sunni’s fate.
All right, just because he was a Shiite doesn’t mean the judge was unfair. In fact, al-Amiri was so just, he told Saddam he was not a dictator.
I see examining a man’s actions instead of using incriminating terms as a good thing. However, this wonderful new democracy we established seems to feel differently. The new Iraqi government decided it needed a new chief judge, and it chose Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa.
This judge wasted no time. He immediately threw Hussein out of court for arguing the change of judges in the middle of the trial.
When his lawyers rightfully protested this horribly unjust decision, they simply were replaced with new lawyers Hussein refused to accept. When he argued, he was once again thrown out of the court.
At this instant, it doesn’t matter if Hussein was guilty or innocent. This isn’t the time to argue whether he deserves life or death. Right now we have to realize this case was as open and shut as we expected, but there are still people who think he should be in power.
If we allow this man to die, he will be converted into a Sunni martyr. On the brink of a civil war, the last thing we need to be doing is sparking matches.