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Archive for Friday, July 9, 2004

Saddam novel references Sept. 11 in tale of Arabs vs. West

July 9, 2004

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— Saddam Hussein's latest novel contains an apparent reference to the Sept. 11 attacks and returns to his favorite theme of good vs. evil: Arabs and Muslims fighting their enemies in the West.

The first excerpt of "Get Out, You Damned" appeared Thursday in Asharq al-Awsat, a London-based Arab newspaper, which is publishing the entire work over the next several days.

The manuscript was found in the Ministry of Culture after Baghdad's fall, indicating that it was written while Saddam was still in power. The newspaper said it had received its copy from Saddam's physician, Alla Bashir, who fled Iraq after the war and was believed to be in Qatar.

Ali Abdel Amir, an Iraqi writer and critic who has read the whole manuscript, said the novel was similar in style to three others attributed to Saddam. All four were signed simply, "Its author."

Abdel Amir said "Get Out, You Damned" describes a Zionist-Christian conspiracy against Arabs and Muslims, with an Arab leading an army that invades the land of the enemy and topples one of their monumental towers, an apparent reference to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York by Islamic militants of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

The novel opens with a narrator, who bears a resemblance to the Jewish, Christian and Muslim patriarch Abraham, telling cousins Ezekiel, Youssef and Mahmoud that Satan lives in the ruins of a Babylon destroyed by the Persians and the Jews. Saddam had heavily restored the remains of Babylon, one of the world's most important archaeological sites.

Ezekiel, symbolizing the Jews, is portrayed as greedy, ambitious and destructive.

"Even if you seize all the property of others, you will suffer all your life," the narrator tells him.

Youssef, who symbolizes the Christians, is portrayed as generous and tolerant -- at least in the early passages. Mahmoud, symbolizing Muslims, emerges as the conqueror at the end of the book, Abdel Amir told The Associated Press.

Saddam "was completely out of touch with actual reality, and novel writing gave him the chance to live in delusions," Abdel Amir said.

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