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Qur’an Written in Saddam Hussein’s Blood: Valuable, Controversial and Gross.

A copy of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam

A copy of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam

Since the collapse of the Iraqi government and Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003, Iraq has been struggling with the question of how to deal with remnants of the tyrannical dictator’s reign.

Some choices – such as the felling and removal of Hussein likenesses (statues and busts) – were easy and obvious. But some remain strange grey areas. The Guardian today posts about one of the more grisly and interesting specimens: a copy of the Qur’an penned in Saddam Hussein’s own blood. The despot commissioned the project, and over two years, sat with a nurse and an Islamic calligrapher and donated 27 litres of his blood to be used in the creation.

The gruesome and controversial result sits in a vault in a mosque in Baghdad, and is certainly worth astronomical sums of money. To gain access to the vault to view the pages is no easy feat: there are three keys required, held by three different people, in three different parts of the city.

The question of what to do with the book is a difficult one. Many of Iraq’s Sunni Muslims find its existence blasphemous and maintain that to treat it with reverence is offensive and wrong and would displease Allah.

Much like similar debates over relics of the Nazis, there are those who find the existence of the blood Qur’an shameful and wish for its destruction, and those who maintain that the preservation of terrible, dark parts of history are valid and necessary, to remember and ensure it is never repeated. There are also those who feel the blood Qur’an is a perfect example of Hussein’s arrogance, brutality and disregard for the people, and wish to see it kept as a reminder of evil. As an aside, it is also an artistically sublime work, painstakingly crafted by a talented calligrapher. Understandably, the calligrapher, who now lives in the United States, prefers not to discuss the book.

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