Saddam Hussein might be dead, but it’ll be a very long time before anyone forgets him – and not in a good way. His legacy is one of terror and has been widely publicized, but there are some interesting facts you might not know about him still. Here, PPcorn presents 15 things you probably didn’t know about Saddam Hussein.
Number Fifteen: He Had no Real Ideology
Though Hussein was technically a president, as a person, he had no ideology. He spent 20 years creating an image, and his opponents spent the same amount of time fostering the opposite image, but the truth was that Hussein was willing to do anything to bring Iraq into the 20th century.
Number Fourteen: He Borrowed From Stalinism
According to expert Said K. Aburish, Hussein must have studied Stalin, and he probably made Stalin his personal hero. Like Hussein, Stalin had humble beginnings and was raised primarily by his mother. More than any other figure, Hussein used Stalin as someone to look up to.
Number Thirteen: He Was Illiterate Until Age 10
Saddam Hussein had very humble beginnings, and he came from a poor family. He had to steal to eat growing up, and he couldn’t actually read or write until he was 10.
Number Twelve: His Name Means “One Who Confronts”
His mother must have known what Saddam had coming in his future because his name means “one who confronts” in Arabic. Other interpretations of his name include “one who frequently causes collisions,” “powerful collider,” and “powerful confronter.” How accurate.
Number Eleven: He Married His Cousin
Hussein’s official marriage was to Sajida Khairallah Talfah, who was his cousin. He was 21 when they were married, and Hussein eventually married for a second, unofficial time, to Samira Shahbandar.
Number Ten: He Had the Keys to Detroit
In 1980, Hussein was given the city key to Detroit, Michigan. He was given the key for the large amounts of money he donated to a church there.
Number Nine: He Has a Blood Book
Though this claim has never been officially proven, the Blood Qu’ran is a copy of the Islamic holy book of the same name allegedly written in Hussein’s blood. He apparently donated up to 57 pints of his own blood to make the book.
Number Eight: The United States Helped Him Defeat Iran
Throughout the 1980s, the Iran-Iraq War was raging. The United States decided to provide Hussein and his regime with weapons and aid because he was essentially seen as the lesser of two evils. Interestingly, the same weaponry and aid used to help Hussein was then used against the United States during the first Gulf War and the Iraq War.
Number Seven: His Cousin Was a Major Player
Saddam Hussein’s cousin was Ali Hassan Al-Majid, who was later nicknamed “Chemical Ali.” Chemical Ali got his name by using chemical weapons to kill more than 180,000 Kurds. The kinds of chemical warfare he used include sarin, tabun, mustard gas, and VX.
Number Six: Under His Reign, Men Could Kill Women Without Consequence
In the 1970s, Hussein passed a law into Iraq that allowed any man to kill a woman without any fear of punishment – with one stipulation. That stipulation was that the man had to be able to prove that he killed the woman in defense of his family’s honor. However, considering the phrase “family honor” was never defined, this caused a lot of trouble.
Number Five: He Proposed a Live Debate Against George W. Bush
Weeks before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Hussein tried to prevent the impending war by proposing a live debate with president at the time George W. Bush. However, Bush obviously did not accept the proposal, and the United States did end up invading Iraq.
Number Four: His Government Donated to Poor Americans
In 2001, Hussein’s Iraqi government announced that $94 million would be donated to poor Americans. Apparently, Hussein wanted to aid Americans in poverty in the same way he had helped poor Palestinians.
Number Three: He Didn’t Convert to Islam Until the Late 1990s
Hussein was very publicly criticized by the Arab world for his lack of faith. Because of this, he finally converted to Islam by the end of the 1990s.
Number Two: He Received a UNESCO Award
Yes, that’s right. Hussein was awarded a UNESCO award for his efforts to raise the standard of living in Iraq.
Number One: Saddam Hussein Went on a Hunger Strike
During his trial, Hussein had to be hospitalized because he was suffering from malnutrition due to a hunger strike. He launched the strike because he believed what the courts were doing to him was illegal.