Mayada, Daughter of Iraq

March 2nd, 2009 - 2:47 pm ICT by Amrit Rashmisrisethi  

MayadaThe book by Jean Sasson who earlier wrote Desert Royal but usually writes about life of a Middle Eastern woman. Mayada Al Askari belongs to a long line of prestigious Iraqis.

A true story about the granddaughter of two of Iraq’s most famous and respected leaders.

Jafar Pasha Al-Askari who was Defense Minister and Prime Minister of Iraq and Sati Al-Husri, one of the first Arab Nationalists and also a government minister.

Mayada had spent all of her life in Iraq. She became a highly respected reporter for a local newspaper, married a man of her own choice and had two children. Her mother was also a very well respected person in her own right, she held a high government posting.

Mayada’s mother impressed Saddam with her knowledge, and was a very smartly dressed woman. A woman could afford “designer” labels from Italy and the rest of Europe and it was because of her high fashion sense that Saddam asked her advice before he chose his own suits and he coerced her into helping his uneducated wife, Sajida (mother to 5 of his children), to develop into a sophisticated lady – an unenviable task for anyone and one which Mayada’s mother didn’t want but dare not refuse for fear of reprisal.

Saddam had been an admirer of Sati Al Husri and had also received teachings from Sati and therefore had some respect for Mayada and her mother.
The head of security, Dr Fadil became a good friend of Mayada’s family and often visited called at their home to sit in the library to read Sati’s teachings and books.

Mayada, through her association with Dr Fadil, was able to help people and on several occasions she was able to assist acquaintances in locating the whereabouts (prison) of their loved ones. Dr Fadil didn’t like Mayada asking for assistance but he usually helped because of her status in society. It seems so strange that here was a man who ordered the torture of prisoners and yet he did have a small streak of compassion in him.
Saddam liked reading Mayada’s newspaper articles and she received writing awards from him.

The book does have a section showing black and white photographs of Mayada’s family but we do see one of Mayada receiving an award from Saddam.

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