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Compulsion in ReligionSaddam Hussein, Islam, and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq$
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Samuel Helfont

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190843311

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190843311.001.0001

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Saddam Takes Control

Saddam Takes Control

(p.19) 1 Saddam Takes Control
Compulsion in Religion

Samuel Helfont

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 discusses Saddam Hussein’s rise to the presidency in Ba’thist Iraq in which he inherited an existing relationship between his regime and the Iraqi religious landscape. Saddam also inherited a rich Ba‘thist intellectual heritage, which had a good deal to say about religion, and Islam in particular, and offered what he considered to be powerful tools to face the challenges that lay before him. Chapter 1 highlights the the role of religion in Saddam’s rise to power and the secret polices on religion that he enacted. It will then discuss the initial steps he took to consolidate his power and contain uprisings within Iraq’s religious landscape. His polices reflect a Ba’thist interpretation of Islam that was first articulated by the Syrian Christian intellectual, Michel Aflaq, in the mid-20th century. Under Saddam’s leadership, the Ba’thist regime attempts to impose its ideas on religion.

Keywords:   Saddam Hussein, Aflaq, Islam, religion, Ba‘thists, 1979, control

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