25 October, 2020

That Muted Roar

Saddam's edited court appearance leaves Iraqis strangely dissatisfied

That Muted Roar
For Iraqis, Saddam Hussein’s silence was deafening. Clustered around television screens from Mosul to Basra, the country had ground to a halt, anxiously awaiting to hear their former leader. They waited. And waited. And waited. And when the fateful TV images finally flashed up more than two hours after the top-secret court appearance was over, Iraqi viewers were dismayed that they came without sound. Saddam’s face was clear for all to see. But his voice was removed, thanks to the editing efforts of the US military censors.

Answering for the first time in the role of defendant, Saddam’s July 1 arraignment was meant to be a watershed moment in Iraqi history, comparable only to the fall of his statue in central Baghdad and his subsequent capture last December. The court appearance was expected to complete a trio of images that would serve as psychological stepping-stones on the nation’s tortuous journey from an even more tortuous past. But as the afternoon unfolded in a confounding flurry of pictures without sound, the Iraqi reaction was clear: the journey cannot take...



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