A Koran etched in the blood of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been hidden away in a vault in a Baghdad mosque for the past three years, reported the British newspaper the Guardian on Tuesday.
According to the report, over the course of two years Saddam Hussein sat regularly with a nurse and Islamic calligrapher to transcribe the Koran in his blood.
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Since the fall of Baghdad almost eight years ago, the Koran has remained mostly out of sight, along with other artifacts of the ousted dictator. The current government does not know what to do with it. The reason for this, cites the Guardian, is that on the one hand the newly created Shia-led regime is very sensitive to the re-emergence of symbols that might glorify the former Ba'athist regime and serve as an icon for the remaining loyal supporters. On the other hand the Sunnis themselves are fearful of retribution if they reveal this version of the Koran which some would view as sacriligious, cites the report.
"What is in here is priceless, worth absolutely millions of dollars," said Sheikh Ahmed al-Samarrai, head of Iraq's Sunni Endowment fund to the Guardian.
"It was wrong to do what he did, to write it in blood," says Sheikh Samarrai. "It is haraam [forbidden]."
Nevertheless Samarrai acts as the document's guardian, holding one of three keys necessary to remove it from the vault.
Samarrai told the Guardian that, "I knew this would be much sought after and we made the decision to
protect it. But to see this now is not easy. There are three keys and
none of them are held in the one place."
In 2005, the government formed a committee to oversee the removal of symbols linked to Saddam.
Ali al-Moussawi, a spokesman for the prime minister, Nour al-Maliki,
said "we should keep this as a document for the brutality of Saddam,
because he should not have done this.
"It says a lot about him. It should never be put in a museum though,
because no Iraqi wants to see it. Maybe in the future it could be sent
to a private museum, like memorabilia from the Hitler and Stalin
regimes," cited the report.