Protests in which 250 people have died over the past month have accelerated dramatically in recent days, drawing huge crowds from across Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divides to reject the political parties in power since 2003. Protests in which 250 people have died over the past month have accelerated dramatically in recent days, drawing huge crowds from across Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divides to reject the political parties in power since 2003. Thousands have been camped out in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square, with many thousands more joining them by day. Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, was expected to draw the biggest crowds yet, with many taking to the streets after worship. More than 50 people were wounded overnight and early Friday morning, police and hospital sources said. By late morning hundreds were marching to the square from side streets, condemning elites they see as deeply corrupt, beholden to foreign powers and responsible for daily privations. In recent days protests have been comparatively peaceful by day, joined by elderly people and young families, becoming more violent after dark as police use tear gas and live ammunition to battle self-proclaimed “revolutionary” youths in the street. Amnesty International said on Thursday security forces were using “previously unseen” tear gas canisters modelled on military grenades that are 10 times as heavy as standard ones. In Baghdad, protesters had set up checkpoints in the streets leading into and surrounding Tahrir Square, redirecting traffic. New arrivals joined and assisted those who had camped overnight. A
Saddam Hussein was born on April 28, 1937, in Tikrit, Iraq. His father, who was a shepherd, disappeared several months before Saddam was born. A few months later, Saddam’s older brother died of cancer. When Saddam was born, his mother, severely depressed by her oldest son’s death and the disappearance of her husband, was unable to effectively care for Saddam, and at age 3 he was sent to Baghdad to live with his uncle, Khairallah Talfah. Years later, Saddam would return to Al-Awja to live with his mother, but after suffering abuse at the hand of his stepfather, he fled to Baghdad to again live with Talfah, a devout Sunni Muslim and ardent Arab nationalist whose politics would have a profound influence on the young Saddam.
After attending the nationalistic al-Karh Secondary School in Baghdad, in 1957, at age 20, Saddam joined the Ba’ath Party, whose ultimate ideological aim was the unity of Arab states in the Middle East. On October 7, 1959, Saddam and other members of the Ba-ath Party attempted to assassinate Iraq’s then-president, Abd al-Karim Qasim, whose resistance to joining the nascent United Arab Republic and alliance with Iraq’s communist party had put him at odds with the Ba’athists. During the assassination attempt, Qasim’s chauffeur was killed, and Qasim was shot several times, but survived. Saddam was shot in the leg. Several of the would-be assassins were caught, tried and executed, but Saddam and several others managed to escape to Syria, where Saddam stayed briefly before fleeing to Egypt, where he attended law school.