On the streets, in newspapers and over the Internet, Mr. Hussein has emerged as a Sunni Arab hero who stood calm and composed as his Shiite executioners tormented and abused him.The members of the Mouktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army who infiltrated the government forces and the execution chamber defeated their own cause by their taunting and disrespect for both the process of Saddam's execution and for the process of justice. Instead of being a process of justice which ended in the sad but just execution by hanging, Saddam's death became a mob lynching that showed a lack of respect for Saddam, for the process of Justice, and for every Sunni Arab.
“No one will ever forget the way in which Saddam was executed,” President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt remarked in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot published Friday and distributed by the official Egyptian news agency. “They turned him into a martyr.”
In Libya, which canceled celebrations of the feast of Id al-Adha after the execution, a government statement said a statue depicting Mr. Hussein in the gallows would be erected, along with a monument to Omar al-Mukhtar, who resisted the Italian invasion of Libya and was hanged by the Italians in 1931.
In Morocco and the Palestinian territories, demonstrators held aloft photographs of Mr. Hussein and condemned the United States.
Here in Beirut, hundreds of members of the Lebanese Baath Party and Palestinian activists marched Friday in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood behind a symbolic coffin representing that of Mr. Hussein and later offered a funeral prayer. Photographs of Mr. Hussein standing up in court, against a backdrop of the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem, were pasted on city walls near Palestinian refugee camps, praising “Saddam the martyr.”
“God damn America and its spies,” a banner across one major Beirut thoroughfare read. “Our condolences to the nation for the assassination of Saddam, and victory to the Iraqi resistance.”
By standing up to the United States and its client government in Baghdad and dying with seeming dignity, Mr. Hussein appears to have been virtually cleansed of his past.
“Suddenly we forgot that he was a dictator and that he killed thousands of people,” said Roula Haddad, 33, a Lebanese Christian. “All our hatred for him suddenly turned into sympathy, sympathy with someone who was treated unjustly by an occupation force and its collaborators.”
Worse, it exacerbated the tendency for violence and reduced chances for peace throughout the Middle East. It also made the possibility of a general Shi'ite vs. Sunni war more likely. Saddam's lynching was a failure for the so-called Iraqi government at least as severe as the Abu Ghraib scandal was for the American occupying forces.