How will November 5, 2006, the day that Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death, be remembered? I hope very fondly. I hope that it becomes known as a day that the struggle for freedom in the Middle East began to take a dramatic turn for the better.
I remember well, and I think it was a Sunday after I returned from church as well, when I discovered that Saddam had been found cowering in a rat hole on December 14, 2003. As they discovered that it really was Saddam, multitudes of Iraqis celebrated. Their wicked witch had been apprehended.
Hussein and his beefed-up Mukhabarat (secret police) created unpredictable terror. For reasons only explained as illogical, western powers, including the United States, supported Hussein before it became crystal clear what kind of a murderous leader he was. For this we should be forever chagrined, and cannot possibly form a suitable apology to the Iraqi people for our complicity in their lives destroyed by terror.
In a remarkable occurrence, Saddam Hussein was born only a few hundred miles from the birthplace of Josef Stalin. Hussein's bookshelves were filled with the works of the Soviet Communist butcher.
The pictures in the news today say it all, but many had their own words of exultance over tyranny to express as well.
"I would like today to raise my shirt and show the whole world what the regime did to me'" said Abdul Zahara Hatow after hearing the sentence of death for Saddam Hussein. "I feel that this sentence will be like a bandage to my wounds."
"We've been waiting for justice since 1982, but today is great day for the people of Dujail." said another Iraqi.
Tens of thousands of Shia celebrated in Sadr City alone. Abdul Aziz al Hakim put this day into perspective:
"I hope the verdict will bring closure to this tragic and brutal episode in Iraqi history. We must never forget and we must always be vigilant never to let tyranny rise here in Iraq ever again.."November 5th, 2006 is a day whereon justice has been served. Whether you are Shia, Sunni, or of another religious persuasion, you must agree that Saddam is worthy of severe punishment for his crimes. It's difficult for me to comprehend that Saddam's egregious crimes would not make believers out of a great many who are opposed to the death penalty.
The celebrations of today were as glorious as they were on the day of his capture nearly three years ago. It was expected then that a verdict would require at least five years' time. In less than three, the wicked witch has now been sentenced to a rightful punishment.
There are certainly more trials to come, as Dujail is only one of many incidents for which Saddam is clearly culpable. But it is my hope that today will be memorialized for years to come as the day when Iraq turned the corner and made dramatic strides toward peace and liberty.