Tuesday, October 01, 2002

The Big Bad

In headlines and on second reference, newspapers refer to people by their last name: Bush, Cheney, Locke. So why do the media refer to Saddam Hussein by the more familiar "Saddam''?

The Associated Press offers this explanation:

First, Hussein is not his family name. Saddam is his given name, and Hussein is his father's given name; this is common practice in Arab families. His full name is Saddam Hussein al-Majd al-Tikriti, but he uses neither al-Majd, which is akin to a family name, nor al-Tikriti, which is a name for his extended family, or clan, derived from the Tikrit region where the president is from.
Second, he is not usually referred to as Hussein by people in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. Political leaders and Iraqi citizens call him simply Saddam or by both names, Saddam Hussein. Both Arabic- and English-language newspapers follow the same practice, and some that use both names in copy reduce it to Saddam in headlines.

I move to start calling him al-Majd al-Tikriti on second reference!

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