Several social media posts in French and in Arabic claim that an amateur video shows former dictator Saddam Hussein’s corpse still intact, 12 years after his death. In reality, however, this is an old video that has been presented out of context.
The video was shared more than 9,000 times on the Facebook group “Freedom Justice Diallogue Soninkara”, which is a discussion group for members of Western Africa’s “Soninké” community.
On this video, you can see a casket covered with the Iraqi flag. The casket is opened and numerous people cry out “Allah Akbar” when they see the man’s face. The video is paused to show Saddam Hussein’s apparently perfectly preserved face.
A comment accompanying the video reads: “The tomb of the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was excavated to transfer his body to his hometown, Tikrit. Hallelujah, his body has not decomposed. We ask God to accept him as a martyr.”
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING VIDEO, WHICH WAS SHARED ON THE FACEBOOK GROUP, MAY SHOCK VIEWERS
In reality, this footage was taken from a longer video, which was published many years back. By typing the keywords “Saddam Hussein buried” into Google, we found the video below, which was published way back in 2007 on YouTube. It shows the former dictator’s burial, which took place on December 31, 2006, in Al-Awja, his native village, located near Tikrit.
This video shows members of the “Al-Bu Nasir” tribe, which Saddam Hussein belonged to, saying their goodbyes before his burial.
Why was Saddam Hussein’s face shown to the public?
His face was shown as part of a ritual: in certain traditions, the deceased person’s face is shown to mourners before they are buried. Family members and friends can thus say goodbye one last time. Usually, the deceased person’s face is oriented toward Mecca.
So why would anyone share this video with these false claims?
The funerary monument in which Saddam Hussein was buried was destroyed in March 2015 during fighting between the Islamic State terrorist group and Iraqi security forces. But before this, loyalists to the former dictator claimed that they had moved his body to a secret location.
Twelve years after his death, Saddam Hussein remains popular with many Iraqis, notably for his anti-Israel stance. Some Iraqis look back fondly on the country’s relative stability under his reign, even though it was a bloody dictatorship.