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:: Friday, July 02, 2004 ::

The real "People's" Court
An Iraqi judge telling Saddam not to use such language in his courtroom amused most in the west, if it made any impression at all. We're used to judges maintaining order and decorum in the courtroom regardless of who's in the dock, so we missed the significance of this exchange.

But this is earthshattering stuff in the middle east. Here's Egpytian blogger "Land of the Pharaohs:"

I had my eyes wide open while watching Saddam Hussein in front of an Iraqi judge. What happened today resembled an earthquake in this country and in the region. For the very first time in history, Arabs are going judge their own rulers. This is unprecedented.
One of the most profound words I heard was from the judge. Saddam referred to Kuwaitis as "dogs" when he commented on his invasion of Kuwait. The judge firmly told him "that this is a court and any indecent words are unacceptable." Wow, an Iraqi actually told those words to Saddam. Then a simple policeman went and slowly pulled Saddam from his arms when the hearing ended.

There are a whole lot of people throughout the Arab world staring in stunned amazement at their TV, as an Arab court tries a dictator. It offers a tantalizing hope that the rule of law can actually work in the Arab world.

That's why it is absolutely crucial that the trial stays an absolutely transparent and absolutely Iraqi affair from start to finish. No US, No UN. Nobody but the people of Iraq.

If (colossal subjunctive) the rest of the trial of Saddam Hussein is handled well the exchange between the judge and Saddam could end up being cited as a historical turning point in popular attitudes, much like Reagan's "Evil Empire" statement.

Update: I was posting in a hurry and neglected to mention that this post was partially inspired by comments I was posting to related post by Athena at the always excellent Terrorism Unveiled.

:: Erik | 7/02/2004 03:37:00 PM | | ::

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