A park bench with a plaque that appears to honor former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has sprung up in east London, and city and neighborhood officials are scratching their heads as to how it got there and what it means, the Daily Mail is reporting.
The Facebook page S**t London first broke this story, posting photos of the brass plaque that was affixed to the wooden bench next to High Street running through the city’s Wanstead neighborhood. It remains unclear when the plaque was affixed, but whoever put it there was serious about it: They used anti-tampering screws that can only be manipulated with a special tool.
The bronze plaque reads, “In loving memory of Saddam Hussein, 1937 – 2006.”
As of this writing, the bench has spurned several questions, with answers that remain elusive.
Is It Meant To Honor The Saddam Hussein Or Someone Else?
The brutal Iraqi dictator, who was hanged for crimes against humanity in the mid-aughts, was indeed born in 1937 and did indeed die in 2006, just like the dates on the plaque.
According to a 1998 Slate report, Middle Eastern naming conventions can be rather complicated to explain to Westerners, but long story short, “Saddam Hussein” isn’t a combination of given name plus family name like most Western names like Donald Trump or Aaron Homer. In the Iraqi dictator’s case, “Hussein” was the name bestowed upon him by his parents, and “Saddam” was more akin to a title rather than a name. In other words, “Saddam Hussein,” as used by the Iraqi dictator, can more or less be translated as “Hussein the Destroyer.”
All of this is to say that the possibility exists – however remote – that the bench is dedicated to another person named Saddam Hussein, who just happened to be born the same year as the Iraqi dictator and who just happened to die the same year as well.
Is It Genuine? Is It An Act Of Trolling? Is It A Prank?
Assuming for the moment that the plaque was indeed referencing the Saddam Hussein and not some other Saddam Hussein, the question is, why?
The consensus among Londoners, according to The Scottish Sun, is that it was all an elaborate prank. Or at least, they hope so.
“Someone either screwed up royally or this the most epic level of trolling I’ve seen so far.”
What’s Going To Be Done About It?
The Wanstead Council denies any involvement in the plaque, which essentially means that its placement was an act of vandalism and, as such, will likely be remedied. However, the Daily Mail notes that, because the plaque was affixed using anti-tampering tools, getting it off the bench will be easier said than done, and that it might remain up there for “some time.”