Saddam Hussein’s web page

Saddam Hussein Goes Online – Almost

AMMAN (Reuter) – Fans of President Saddam Hussein can now send messages to the reclusive Iraqi president on the Internet via an official homepage set up to celebrate his 60th birthday, a computer firm said on Sunday.

But well-wishers hoping for replies to their e-mail will have to patient.

There are no Internet facilities in Iraq and Saddam’s electronic mail-box is 500 miles away in neighboring Jordan. All messages have to travel by land in and out of sanction-hit Baghdad.

“I will print them out here and send them by driver,” said Iyad Awad, Amman representative of the Iraqi company Nahj Computer Services which set up the homepage last week.

Awad said he had already received many messages but he was saving them up “so we can send a big amount.”

“It seems all the Arabic public were waiting for this, they are very enthusiastic,” he told Reuters.

The page, at http://196.27.0.22/iraq, shows Iraq’s flag with the Arabic inscription Allahu Akbar (God is great) and a grainy picture of Saddam Hussein, described simply as “The Leader.”

There is a biography of Saddam in Arabic and a description in English of the suffering which Iraqis have endured during nearly seven years of U.N. sanctions, imposed on Baghdad for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Blurred pictures of barely discernable tourist landmarks are also on display.

Saddam rarely appears in public and skipped his own birthday parade in his hometown of Tikrit last week, but Awad said any e-mail addressed to him would be passed on to Iraqi authorities in Baghdad.

“These messages should go to the proper places,” he said.