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Saddam''s Trial: Pictures from Another Era! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A look of deep confusion appeared on the woman”s face whose eyes glared suddenly before the screen that displayed colorless scenes of a number of Iraqi men, women and children who ran on the poor dusty streets and pleaded desperately to the then Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein. At that point, the former President seemed to be at the climax of his sovereignty and domination, waving from his lofty tower to the masses.

The woman watched as the news channel, Al-Arabia exclusively featured the rare pictures of the overthrown Iraqi president”s visit to the village of Dujail in 1982, when he was subject to an assassination attempt for which the village quickly paid a high price.

Last Wednesday, the screens were filled with old and new scenes alike. It was a historical day that in turn required historical pictures to complement the unparalleled event of the first trial of an Arab president, Saddam Hussein.

News channels recruited their crews and devoted hours of live transmission to follow the event. Images of Saddam”s Iraq were remembered and broadcasted before showing scenes of the trial. These were accompanied by images of Saddam sympathizers in Tikrit and protestors calling for his execution in Dujail.

The scenes of Saddam Hussein standing before the judges seemed contradictory to his appearance in the pictures of Dujail, or to the last moments before the fall of his regime. During that exceptional day, all screens were almost identical. The scenes played were a visual context of confusion. It is not the first time for us to feel this way, as televised images do not cease to amaze us with this incredible ability to remind us of old times so vividly, that any other means of communication fails to accomplish. At the same time, we saw the same Saddam Hussein of a different era. Not only does the era differ but so too does the situation.

We were almost lost in our amazement and the attempt to clarify the mysterious relation with time, had it not been for the recurrent interruptions in transmission of the trial, which seemed dark and colorless. Even the sound was low to the extent that we could barely understand the speech.

The security measures that accompanied the trial were exaggerated so much that that probably affected the quality of picture and sound transmitted. It became difficult to hear clearly what was being said in the courtroom.

This delayed transmission opened the door to many questions that have not been answered.

Why was the quality of transmission of such an important trial so poor? Could it be that the person who prepared the live transmission wanted the image of Saddam in Dujail to be more powerful and clear than his image at the trial?

If we turn to the conspiracy theory, was this distorted sound and delayed transmission intentional so as not to give Saddam Hussein the opportunity to talk? Surely, this contradicts the principles of a fair trial!

Alternatively, if the poor quality of sound and image was merely due to technical difficulties, then we no longer accept this matter in this era of technology.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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