The Iraqi government sent an official order to late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s clan, ordering the closure of his tomb and the transfer of his remains.
The chief of al-Bu Nasir clan, Hassan al-Nada, said he received a letter from the police headquarters in the northern province of Saladin, where Hussein was born.
“This letter, issued from the Ministry of Interior, orders us to close the tomb and find somewhere else to house the remains of Saddam Hussein,” Nada told the Iraqi news website al-Sumaria News.
Nada added that the governor and the head of the Provincial Council in Saladin interfered in resolving the issue and talked to the central government into repealing the order.
Nada attributed the decision to the increased numbers of visitors and the way this makes the government apprehensive about the rising popularity of the late president.
“The hall adjacent to the tomb is frequented by a lot of people who come to attend weddings or funerals, but very few actually visit Hussein’s tomb. The government thinks all these numbers go to the tomb.”
To avoid clashes with the central government, Nada explained, both the clan and the Provincial Council have decided to close the hall until further notice.
“But to order the closure of the tomb is strange, especially since it houses the bodies of other Iraqi presidents like Abdul Rahman Arif and Abdul Karim Qassim.”
According to a source in the Saladin police, security forces surrounded on January 22 Saddam Hussein’s tomb, which is located in the late president’s hometown al-Awja, and prevented people from entering while threatening to arrest anyone who does.
Ahmed Abdul Jabar, Saladin’s first deputy governor said that the provincial administration told local police to withdraw and leave the matter to the central government.
“The province is currently holding negotiations with Baghdad to reach a compromise in order to avoid creating unnecessary problems,” he said.
However, Abdul Jabar added, the Interior Ministry still insists that the order be carried out.
“We received a confirmation of the order two days ago.”
In 2009, the Iraqi cabinet officially banned any individual or organization from visiting the tomb of late president who was executed in 2006 for committing crimes against humanity.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)