| File picture of Saddam Hussein with his first wife Sajida (seated) and daughters Hala (seated), Rana (third from left) and Raghad (centre); Rana’s husband General Hussein Kamel Hassan (far left), Raghad’s husband Saddam Kamel Hassan (second from right); sons Uday (far right) and Qusay (second from left). (AFP)
London, June 5 (Reuters): Britain said today it would have to consider any claim for political asylum from Saddam Hussein’s daughters but would almost certainly turn it down.
Responding to media speculation that two of Saddam’s three daughters, Raghad and Rana, planned to flee their hiding place in Iraq and head to Britain, the government said it would have no choice but to consider any application they made for asylum. But it said the women would have to get to Britain first, would have to apply in person and, even then, would probably be turned away.
“As I understand it, those people are not even in the country at the moment and were they to get to the country, if they made a claim it would have to go through the normal process,” Britain’s minister for immigration and asylum, Beverley Hughes, said.
“If they were to get here and to make a claim we would be bound to consider that claim,” she told BBC Radio. “It would depend on the detail of that claim but we are starting from a position in which we are not in the business of giving asylum to members of Saddam Hussein’s family.”
Raghad and Rana defected to Jordan with their husbands in the 1990s but were lured back to Baghdad. When they got there, Saddam had the two husbands executed.
Hughes was speaking hours after one of Saddam’s cousins, Izzi-Din Mohammed Hassan al-Majid, arrived in Britain from Iraq. Newspapers speculated he was planning to petition British authorities on the daughters’ behalf.
British officials confirmed that “someone is attempting to negotiate to bring them here” but added that the home office was taking “a reasonably dim view” of the issue.
Al-Majid fled Iraq in 1995 and was given permission to stay in Britain indefinitely in 2000. He lives in northern England. He went back to Iraq in April following the collapse of Saddam’s government, returning early today.
Copies of an old home video of Saddam Hussein at his daughter’s birthday party have shown Iraqis a side to the deposed president he never let them see. They sold out fast.
The grainy home movie, shot more than a decade ago, shows Saddam in military fatigues smiling stiffly. His wife Sajida and a crowd of children sing and dance beside a towering cake.
For Iraqis, it is an unprecedented glimpse of the domestic life of the man who brutalised the country for decades. Nobody knows how the footage was found — vendors suspect it was looted from the home of somebody in Saddam’s inner circle. When the footage went on sale today, Iraqis crowded round televisions in Baghdad’s run-down video shops to stare at black-and-white pictures of the Saddam family at play. Traffic stopped in the street. Men shouted and shook their fists. The videos sold out in less than an hour.
During Saddam’s rule, media coverage of his family was rigidly controlled. The few family occasions Iraqis were shown on state television were stage-managed. Saddam and a group of young children stand around Hala’s vast birthday cake, which includes a candy lattice with a live bird inside. His notorious sons Qusay and Uday lurk in the background, grinning. Uday lights the candles. Hala, her hair braided, leans forward to blow them out in response to a shout of “Attack!”. Saddam grabs a knife and helps Hala cut the cake, the family cheers.
Sami al-Flayeh at the Abbas video shop said the birthday video was the fastest selling item he could remember.