Saddam Hussein memorial plaque appears on bench in London's Wanstead

Mystery over tribute to Iraqi dictator

Victoria Richards
Monday 19 November 2018 12:53 GMT
Saddam Hussein memorial plaque appears on bench in London's Wanstead

A dedication to a brutal oppressor who ruled Iraq with violence and fear for 30 years has been placed on a bench in the middle of a busy high street in east London, saying “In loving memory of... Saddam Hussein, 1937 - 2006.”

The bronze plaque, which has come to the attention of residents in Wanstead, has caused considerable outrage - which was likely exactly the point.

Whoever fixed the metal memorial to the public spot even appears to have used special anti-theft screws, which cannot be easily removed using normal tools - meaning that the eulogy to one of history’s most brutal tyrants might be in place for the foreseeable future.

The Wanstead bench
The Wanstead bench (Victoria Richards)

The dates of the life of the despot, who was hanged in 2006, are correct.

Melissa Munday-Chanin, 38, who lives near the site of the bench, said: “I was horrified. My mum was over visiting and pointed it out to me and was utterly shocked - so I checked it immediately.

"I thought she surely must’ve been mistaken but to my horror she was right. I think someone celebrating the life of a man who’s caused such terror is outrageous. And if it’s a joke, it’s not remotely funny.”

Fellow resident Victoria Adcock, 42, said: “It’s obviously a prank. People being outraged are just playing into the prankster’s hands. They should just take it off and forget about it.”

Claire Newbigging, 37, said: “I’ve not seen it first hand but it’s got to be a joke. I just don’t get it - would anyone really want to commemorate someone like Saddam Hussein?”

Jane Gibbs, 55, who runs local play group Gracechurch Tots, said: “it must be a wind up. A very tactless wind up.”

Suzy Essex, 38, said: “Has it been done to support what Saddam believed in and is it meant to cause trouble? It could be left-wing trouble makers.”

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Local artist Matthew Webber, 44, said: “It’s clear that whoever did this knew it would cause uproar. They’ve even used special screws to make it much more difficult to remove. Maybe it’s part of a series? Wanstead’s answer to Banksy!”

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said: "We didn't give permission for this to be put up and it has been removed."

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