Palestinian Saddam Hussein seeks change in his name

jerusalem (ap) | It’s not easy being Saddam Hussein. Just ask Saddam Hussein.

Hussein, a 27-year-old resident of Ramallah, said Monday that he has had to cope with jokes, mistrust and abuse throughout his life because of the moniker.

Now in the process of changing his name, he hopes Sunday’s capture of the deposed Iraqi leader is a sign of better things to come.

“I thought it was a bad end for him to be captured without resistance or anything, but I was relieved to get rid of my name,” Hussein said.

Hussein said his father had named him after Saddam in 1976 after hearing a radio report that “Saddam is the strongest man in Iraq.” He said his father, a Palestinian refugee, wanted a “strong name” for the boy. Saddam was a senior official in the ruling Iraqi Baath Party at the time.

But since then, the name has only brought “bad luck,” Hussein explained.

When he was young, he said people felt uncomfortable with the name, which is not familiar in Palestinian society. Hussein said he also disagreed with Saddam’s war with Iran during the 1980s and invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

“When the war in Iraq erupted (in 1991), when I saw the Scud missiles drop on Israel, I felt relief because the Israelis are occupying our land. But I didn’t change my opinion about Saddam. I hated the way he ruled his people and waged war.”

At one point during the first Gulf War, he said Israeli soldiers who took his identification card in a security sweep beat him because of his name.

“The soldier asked me if because my name is Saddam, do I like the missiles in Tel Aviv. Then he beat me,” Hussein said. He said he was also beaten at a checkpoint during the current Palestinian uprising, which broke out three years ago.

During the initial days of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq this year, before the collapse of the Iraqi army, Hussein said he was treated like a hero. At one point, a crowd lifted him on their shoulders, chanting “Saddam Hussein.”

But when U.S. forces entered Baghdad, things turned ugly again. “They said, ‘What happened to you, Saddam; you disappointed us. What a scandal. Your name is bad luck,”‘ he said.

Hussein said he has been trying to change his name to Kais Hussein since 2001. He expects a Palestinian court to make a decision early next month.

“I hope it will be a new start and maybe this name will bring me good luck, not bad luck like Saddam Hussein.”