Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging in the early morning hours of December 30, 2006, in Baghdad, just days after his final appeal had been denied. Those hoping for an easy resolution of sectarian violence by his trial and execution for internecine violence in the town of Dujail in the 1980s were sorely disappointed. In fact, the insensitivity with which the execution was scheduled and carried out, and the dignity with which Saddam met his final end have, in the minds of many in the Arab world, converted the "Butcher of Baghdad" into a martyred hero and opened or reopened questions about the prosecution of the conflict in Iraq, the application of international law, and the imposition of capital punishment.
Many commentators have seen an irony in Saddam's ultimate fate: under his long and brutal rule, executions were frequent and often served as political theater. His death could have been any number of the executions carried out under his regime. But is this ugly truth--that the justice meted out upon Saddam seems to look exactly like the justice of Saddam--truly the cause for which thousands of American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives have been given?
This study looks at the life and death of Saddam Hussein and raises a number of issues and questions for Christians to reflect on.