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Iraq | International

Saudi Arabia criticises timing of Saddam execution
by reposted
Saturday Dec 30th, 2006 10:14 AM
RIYADH, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Leading Sunni Arab power Saudi Arabia on Saturday criticised Iraq's Shi'ite leaders for executing former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein during the Eid al-Adha religious feast, saying his trial had been politicised.
"There is a feeling of surprise and disapproval that the verdict has been applied during the holy months and the first days of Eid al-Adha," a presenter on the official al-Ikhbariya TV said after programming was broken to read a statement.

"Leaders of Islamic countries should show respect for this blessed occasion...not demean it," said the statement, which was attributed to the official news agency SPA's political analyst.

"It had been expected that the trial of a former president, who ruled for a considerable length of time, would last longer...demonstrate more precision, and not be politicised."

The most important date in the Islamic calendar, the Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, marks biblical patriarch Abraham's willingness to kill his son for God.

The religious feast is viewed by devout Muslims as a time of forgiveness and compassion and Muslim countries often pardon criminals to mark the occasion, and prisoners are rarely executed at that time.

The Eid also falls during the five-day haj pilgrimage, when more than 2 million Muslims from around the world follow ancient rites at the Islamic holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi security forces were already on alert in case sectarian violence spread to the haj from Iraq.

"The spirit of unity should prevail during the Eid when Muslims come together during the haj," the statement said.

More
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L30871464.htm
by reposted
Saturday Dec 30th, 2006 10:17 AM
MECCA, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) -- Arab pilgrims in Mecca expressed outrage on Saturday that Iraqi authorities had chosen to execute former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on a major religious holiday, saying it was an insult to Muslims.

Sunni Arabs at the hajj were shocked at Saddam's hanging which followed his conviction for crimes against humanity against Iraqi Shiites.

"His execution on the day of Eid ... is an insult to all Muslims," said Jordanian pilgrim Nidal Mohammad Salah. "What happened is not good because as a head of state, he should not be executed."

The Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, marks biblical patriarch Abraham's willingness to kill his son for God. Muslim countries often pardon criminals to mark the feast, and prisoners are rarely executed at that time.

The death could harden hatred for Shi'ite Muslims in Saudi Arabia, a bastion of Sunni Islam whose Islamic orthodoxy -- known as Wahhabism -- regards Shiites as virtual heretics.

"This timing was chosen to turn our joy during Eid to sadness. I don't say this for grief over Saddam ... but we must ready ourselves for a new enemy from the East," a user on an Islamist Web site said, referring to Shiites in Iran.

Saddam, a Sunni, was admired by many Arabs for standing up to the United States. Hajj authorities fear his death could stoke tensions between Sunni and Shi'ite pilgrims.

Eid falls during the 5-day hajj, when more than 2 million Muslims from around the world follow ancient rites at the Islamic Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

"I don't want to believe it. Saddam cannot die. Is this the good news we get on our Eid?" said Saudi Nawaf al-Harbi.

More
http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/12/30/hussein.hajj.reax.reut/