The Qur'an Written in Saddam Hussein's Blood

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Dictators develop some odd behaviors. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, perhaps it's the kind of corruption that happens to old hard drives, and which causes them to do erratic things. Take Saddam Hussein. Toward the end of his reign, he had 27 litres (that's 57 pints!) of blood drawn and used as ink for a handwritten Qur'an. And now all these years later, Iraqi leaders have to figure out what to do with the thing, the Guardian reports. It's not a simple matter.

Over the course of two painstaking years in the late 1990s, Saddam Hussein had sat regularly with a nurse and an Islamic calligrapher; the former drawing 27 litres of his blood and the latter using it as a macabre ink to transcribe a Qur'an.

But since the fall of Baghdad, almost eight years ago, it has stayed largely out of sight - locked away behind three vaulted doors. It is the one part of the ousted tyrant's legacy that Iraq has simply not known what to do with.

The vault in the vast mosque in Baghdad has remained locked for the past three years, keeping the 114 chapters of the Muslim holy book out of sight - and mind - while those who run Iraq have painstakingly processed the other cultural remnants of 30 years of Saddam and the Ba'ath party.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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