Saddam's novel to be published next week

Saddam Hussein’s family will publish next week a novel written by the ousted Iraqi leader before the US-led war on Iraq, his daughter said today.

Saddam Hussein’s family will publish next week a novel written by the ousted Iraqi leader before the US-led war on Iraq, his daughter said today.

"Ekhroj minha ya mal’un" whose title could be translated into "Get out, damned one", tells the story of a man called Ezekiel who plots to overthrow a town’s sheik, but is defeated in his quest by the sheik’s daughter and an Arab warrior.

The story is apparently a metaphor for a Zionist-Christian plot against Arabs and Muslims. Ezekiel is meant to symbolise the Jews.

Raghad Saddam Hussein said her father finished the novel on March 18, 2003 – a day before the US-led war on Iraq began – and had expressed a wish to publish the book under his name. The three other novels he wrote were simply signed Its author.

“It was my father’s will to publish this book,” Raghad said.

An Iraqi artist designed the book’s cover, she said, and a Jordanian company will first publish the book in Arabic and follow with an English edition.

“A French translation will be issued later,” Raghad said. Raghad also wrote a dedication to her father on the book’s back cover.

“To the beat of the heart, to the eye and to the father of the Iraqis … to the creator of men and heroes … to the one who taught us all the great values,” she wrote.

“You, who raised our heads high, the heads of the Iraqis, the Arabs and the Muslims … we present to you our souls … to the father of the heroes, to my beloved and dear father, with all my respect and glory to you.”

Some Arab newspapers had published excerpts of the novel last year without permission, the first of which appeared in the London-based Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

The newspaper, which published the entire work over several days, said the manuscript was found in the Ministry of Culture after Baghdad’s fall. It said it had received its copy from Saddam’s physician, Alla Bashir, who fled Iraq after the war and was believed to be in Qatar.

The novel opens with a narrator, who bears a resemblance to the Jewish, Christian and Muslim patriarch Abraham, telling cousins Ezekiel, Youssef and Mahmoud that Satan lives in the ruins of Babylon destroyed by the Persians and the Jews.

Ezekiel is portrayed as greedy, ambitious and destructive and Youssef, who symbolises the Christians, is portrayed as generous and tolerant – at least in the early passages.

“Even if you seize all the property of others, you will suffer all your life,” the narrator tells him.

Saddam also has been credited with writing Zabibah and the King, The Fortified Citadel and Men and a City.

Zabibah and the King tells a story of a leader who sacrifices a luxurious life for the sake of his people.

The Fortified Citadel described the rise to power of Saddam’s Baath Party.

Men and a City is widely viewed as a thinly veiled autobiography, presenting him as powerful and heroic.

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