Skip to comments.Poet rich with praise for Saddam
Posted on 12/30/2002 7:08:04 PM PST by new cruelty
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- His eyes sparkle like fountains in the sunlight. They flash like lightning. Then they become sharp like swords in his head.
This is poetry, Iraq-style. The author calls it a love poem. The man described in the verse is mysterious, mercurial, elusive. He isn't named. But it's clear to Iraqis to whom the words refer.
The subject of the poem is Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).
The Iraqi president has been called many things. To some U.S. politicians, he's a modern-day Adolf Hitler, a liar, a ruthless dictator. In Iraq's official newspapers, he is the Great Leader.
But inside the library of Abdul Razzaq Abdul Wahid, Iraq's most famous poet, Saddam is the muse. With the Tigris River glimmering outside, Wahid has penned scores of poems in praise of Saddam. The Iraqi president's spirit hangs over the room.
''His character gives me inspiration,'' says Wahid, 72, his voice dropping in reverence. ''I mostly write love poetry. And I love him. I've written many, many poems to him.''
Saddam's presence overwhelms this city. It's difficult to turn full-circle in Baghdad without spotting the Iraqi president's image on walls, affixed to lampposts or atop marble pedestals. On television, Iraq's thin regular programming is frequently interrupted by footage of the president praying at Muslim shrines, hugging babies or greeting religious Shiite women in black robes. As the leader moves among his people, red hearts float across the TV screen to an orchestral soundtrack.
The thousands of Saddam portraits and statues around Baghdad will probably be destroyed quickly if a U.S.-led war topples the Iraqi president. But Wahid's words are likely to endure such an upheaval. Bound in books owned by average citizens, they will be a lot more difficult to remove after any change in government.
Wahid has published 40 volumes of poetry in Arabic. Most include verses dedicated to the Iraqi leader, although he also writes love poetry and epic verses about Iraq's history. Some of his work has been translated by small publishers into English, Serbo-Croatian, French, Russian, Turkish and Finnish. He received poetry medals at festivals in Moscow in 1976, Macedonia in 1986 and Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1998. Not surprisingly, his Saddam poems are less popular abroad than in Iraq.
Wahid regularly reads his verse on state-controlled TV. The compact, bronzed man opens government conferences in Baghdad with stanzas delivered in a voice that sounds younger than his age. He has been hired to recite his favorites at weddings and festivals.
Wahid began to put his adoration for Saddam into verse more than 30 years ago, when the leader was a rising politician.
''It was during the 1968 revolution that I wrote my first poem to him,'' Wahid says, referring to the military coup that brought Saddam's Baath Party to power in Iraq. ''I knew him a little.''
Saddam soon noticed the attention. Once he was installed as president in 1979, the men became friends. Now, Saddam summons Wahid regularly to talk about life. On the coffee table in Wahid's spacious living room sits a photograph taken a few months ago of Wahid and Saddam laughing together in one of the many presidential palaces.
''Sometimes when I'm with him, he asks me to read him my poems,'' Wahid says. He explains that the leader enjoys spending time with ''a man of culture.'' Wahid lists Saddam's attributes: ''He's a man of principles and honor. Nobody can frighten him. He's very wise.'' Even the West's antipathy to Saddam has inspired Wahid. ''I feel proud that people can hate him so much.''
To Wahid, Saddam is Abu Uday -- ''father of Uday,'' Saddam's older son. It's an informal and affectionate way to address a friend. Saddam calls the poet Abdul Razzaq. Speaking to others about the president, Wahid refers to Saddam simply as ''him.''
Recently, Wahid asked Saddam whether he was anxious about a U.S.-led war that might oust or kill him. ''He said: 'Anything is expected. Perhaps they'll attack, perhaps they won't.' '' Wahid recalls. ''He's brave enough not to be afraid.''
Saddam, who has his own literary ambition, has sought Wahid's advice on writing. The president has published three novels anonymously. The cover of each gives the title and says it's ''a novel by its author.'' One, Zabibah and the King is a veiled rant against the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites) in which a married woman is raped and killed. In private, Iraqis discount the leader's talent. But the books are prominently displayed in bookstores. Wahid gushes about Saddam's writing skills: ''He called me into his office and asked me to have a look at the first five lines. I know his style. It's like quietly moving sentences, like waves on the Tigris.''
Saddam has rewarded Wahid for his devotion. Wahid receives $250 a month from Iraq's Ministry of Culture, several times more than a physician earns. A nurse earns just $84 a year. Iraqi painters and sculptors who make their names creating Saddam's likeness also are well paid by the government.
The poet is paid in other ways too. In the early 1980s, the president asked Wahid to choose a stretch of riverfront on which to build a house. The result was a 5,400-square-foot, two-story villa in Baghdad's Al-Qadissiya suburb. The garden is four times the size of the house and runs to the river's edge, where cows graze on river plants. Wahid lives here with two of his four children, six grandchildren and his wife, Salwa, 71, a retired gynecologist. One son lives in London. A daughter lives in Paris. Sweeping his arms around his large library with its ornate wooden shelves, Wahid says: ''I live like a poet.''
He senses his 20-year idyll is coming to a close. Wahid expects a U.S.-led war will end this good life. He says he is ready to die, but worries about those he will leave behind. ''I have lived a long life. I am filled with pain because of my grandchildren. For myself, I don't care. My poems will survive 1,000 years.''
(Excerpt) Read more at story.news.yahoo.com ...
In Iraq's official newspapers, he is the Great Leader.
i.e.: der Feuhrer
~Ode to Saddam~
Doing the Saddam shuffle.
Can anyone even imagine what a Muslim gynecologist does?
e4.3 Circumcision is obligatory (O: for both men and women. For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. bazr) of the clitoris (n: not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert). (A: Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna, while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.) Source: Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri Reliance of the Traveller A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law In Arabic with facing English text, commentary and appendices edited and translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller Revised Edition, 1994, amana publications A: ... comment by Sheikh 'Abd al-Wakil Durubi Ar. Arabic n: ... remark by the translator O: ... excerpt from the commentary of Sheikh 'Umar Barakat
Female Circumcision: Field Observations in Egypt Circumcision (a Muslim article) Female Circumcision (papers and links): , , , , , ,  Right or wrong, some think it is Islamic in some form: *
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.