Saddam Hussein’s statue, that is, last seen being pulled down in Baghdad in 2003. Apparently one buttock, which escaped being melted down, was acquired by a Derbyshire man who has now fallen foul of the Iraq (United Nations Sanctions) Order 2003. Thus becoming the butt of a thousand jokes. You can get to the bottom of the story in this Guardian article.
I promise not make any more buns – puns! – for the rest of this post. Bloggers, and possibly their readers, are so easily amused.
So why are the police feeling this man’s collar? The Iraq (United Nations Sanctions) Order 2003 forbids the illegal removal of Iraqi cultural property. But since the rest of the statue was melted down for scrap, and it was never of great artistic value, the police investigation does seem like an overreaction.
Amazingly, the Iraqi government want the buttock back. As the ex-soldier who rescued it in 2003 said, it’s “like the Elgin Marbles with attitude.” I can understand why to some extent. To live under a dictatorship, and then have your country trashed by your liberators, entails a devastating loss of history. It will be written by the dictator, and then the invaders, to justify their actions. To control your own history is an essential element of national pride, and perhaps even Saddam Hussein’s buttock is part of the jigsaw that will make them whole again.
And the comfort that people sometimes derive from dictators should not be underestimated. They make the trains run on time and absolve us of the hard decisions. This 2007 Daily Mail article is telling. One of the men who happily pulled down that statue in 2003 is regretting the fall of Saddam Hussein: “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.”
Alternatively, I could be over-thinking this. Perhaps they want it back to show what a complete arse the man was.