Jordan blocks publication of Saddam's novel

Jordan has refused to license the printing of a novel written by Saddam Hussein because it would harm the kingdom’s relations with its eastern neighbour, a senior government official said today.

Jordan has refused to license the printing of a novel written by Saddam Hussein because it would harm the kingdom’s relations with its eastern neighbour, a senior government official said today.

Saddam’s eldest daughter, Raghad, said recently that a Jordanian publishing house would print the book, titled ”Ekhroj minha ya mal’un,” Arabic for “Get out, damned one.”

“I have declined to ordain the printing and circulation of the novel said to be written by Saddam because we in Jordan will not sacrifice our ties with Iraq for anything,” said Ahmad Qudah, head of the Press and Publications Department.

He said he recently received a request to publish the book but had no copy of the novel. His decision means no Jordanian publisher can print the book.

The novel tells the story of a man called Ezekiel who plots to overthrow a town’s sheikh, but is defeated in his quest by the sheikh’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 Hussein said last week that the fallen Iraqi dictator finished his 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.

She said an Iraqi artist designed the book’s cover and that a Jordanian publishing house would print the book in Arabic. English and French translations will follow, she added.

Today she was unavailable for comment.

Qudah said his department “did not tackle the content of the novel.”

“I just assessed whether this would be in Jordan’s national interest and I thought it was not because the whole issue bears political ramifications which do not serve Jordan at all,” he said.

Jordan enjoys cordial relations with the elected government in Iraq, a close business associate and one-time oil supplier to the cash-strapped kingdom under Saddam Hussein.

Amman now hosts training sponsored by its long-time US ally to Iraqi police cadets, army and anti-terrorism units as part of the kingdom’s contribution to Iraq’s post-war reconstruction.

Saddam’s 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 three previous novels.

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