Saddam and the Arabs: The Devil in the Hero

Iraq's leader may be a blood-drenched tyrant, but for many he is nonetheless a symbol of dignity, unity and self-reliance

The figure of Satan flickers through the rhetoric of the Middle East. The Arabic language likes to inflate politics with supernatural meanings: a mere mortal enemy -- George Bush, for example, or the West -- may be transformed into the Great Satan. The phrase has moral and dramatic clarity. It is a bright blade of denunciation flashing on a battlefield of absolutes. But it is difficult for Arabs to use such a weapon against a mortal friend -- against a brother.

What are Arabs to do with Saddam Hussein? What are they to think if they see the devil in the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!