Moroccan boy latest victim of deadly Saddam game
By Tom Pfeiffer
RABAT (Reuters) - A Moroccan man returned home to find his 11-year-old son hanging dead from the ceiling, a newspaper said on Thursday, the latest victim of a macabre game in which children mimic the death of Saddam Hussein.
The boy decided to copy the former Iraq leader's execution while playing with his younger sister at their home in Khemisset, 80 km (50 miles) east of the capital Rabat, newspaper Al Ahdat al-Maghrebia reported.
"The girl then went to school and left her brother playing his deadly game," it said, adding that local officials had opened an enquiry into the death.
Saddam's execution on December 30 came as families gathered for the religious feast of Eid al-Adha and the images of the former Iraqi leader on the gallows shown repeatedly on Arabic news channels spurred indignation among his fellow Sunni Muslims.
Since then, several stories have emerged of children dying or being injured after being captivated by the manner of Saddam's death or by family conversations about the execution.
One 12-year-old Saudi boy died after using a chair and a metal wire to hang himself from a door frame, while another in Algeria was found hanging from a tree, papers reported.
Two boys in different regions of Azerbaijan hanged themselves at the weekend and may have been influenced by Saddam's execution, a security source in the country said.
The death of a 15-year-old boy last week in the Moroccan coastal city of Casablanca was also suspected of being the result of another re-enactment.
The deaths have led many to question the television coverage of the graphic violence in Iraq and the Palestinian territories and the influence on children across the region.
"What have children to do with this kind of thing? They should be playing, painting or reading," said Moroccan sociologist Youssef Sadik.
"It is a characteristic of the Muslim world that we have an over-politicized society. Everyone's into politics, discussing events in Palestine and Iraq and hooked on Al-Jazeera."
The manner of Saddam's execution at the hands of a U.S.-backed government led by Iraq's Shi'ite Arab majority led many people in predominantly Sunni Muslim North Africa to momentarily forget his past record.
Many were impressed by his dignity on the gallows in the face of insults hurled at him in his final moments and some praised him as a hero.
That clearly had a powerful effect on younger minds, said Sadik.
"Children in Morocco are under pressure from an early age to try to be heroes themselves, to be the ones who succeeded where others around them did not," he said.
What i'm not understanding is if Saddam Hussein was such a monster then why are so many people mourning him?
This whole scenario is just bizarre.