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Holiday market at Grand Place, the central square of Brussels. Photo by Eric Francis.

Dear Readers:

It's my long-standing position to oppose the death penalty in any and all cases, regardless of the specifics. This is both a religious and political point of view. Presumably, the death penalty's message is that it's wrong to take life, which is contradicted by the penalty itself. As this is not a widely held view in the United States, I am posting response from leaders of European countries, including the EU itself, which show that it's not an isolated viewpoint. This series of quotes is extracted from an MSNBC article compiled from various wire service reports.


Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, reiterated the bloc’s opposition to the death penalty.

“The European Union has a very consistent stand...opposing the death penalty and it should not have been applied in this case either, even though there is no doubt about Saddam Hussein’s guilt over serious violations against human rights,” Tuomioja said in Helsinki.

He also said that the court case against Saddam “gave cause for some serious objections,” but did not elaborate.

The Vatican’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, called the execution “tragic and reason for sadness.”

Speaking on Vatican Radio, Lombardi said Saddam’s death “will not help efforts aimed at justice and reconciliation” and “risks increasing violence.” He also reiterated the Vatican’s opposition to the death penalty.

The former Iraqi dictator was executed before dawn on Saturday morning in Baghdad. The hanging took place near the beginning of the festival of Eid al-Adha, one of the two most important holidays in Islam.

Russia said it regretted former the execution and was worried his death could trigger a new spiral of violence in Iraq.

“Regrettably, repeated calls by representatives of various nations and international organisations to the Iraqi authorities to refrain from capital punishment were not heard,” a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

“Saddam Hussein’s execution can lead to further aggravation of the military and political situation and the growth of ethnic and sectarian tensions.”

Russia imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in 1996.