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Saudi Arabia criticises timing of Saddam execution
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.