Sundays on this blog will be for focusing on one person, ideally someone connected to current events but who has slipped from notice. Today’s focus is Idi Amin.
Idi Amin might seem like an odd choice because he has not been in the news for more than a decade and in fact many Westerners have the impression that he is dead.
Amin earns his place in this blog today because of the fact that the whole crop of modern Islamic rulers are merely following the trail blazed by Idi Amin. Amin, who ruled Uganda in the 1970s, took on the challenging project of creating a true Islamic nation out of a country that was only about 6 percent Muslims at the time. Amin, accused of murdering hundreds of thousands of Christians, did not get too much good press in the West (like Saddam) but he was a hero to Arabs and Muslims worldwide (like Saddam). Like Saddam, Idi Amin was the victim of a long-distance Israeli air raid (Entebbe 1976). Like Saddam, Idi Amin was overthrown by a foreign military (in Amin’s case it was the war that he started against neighboring Tanzania that ultimately brought Tanzanian troops back to Kampala, the capital of Uganda).
Idi Amin made and kept friends throughout the Middle East. For example, Yasser Arafat was Best Man at Amin’s 5th wedding. After Idi Amin was overthrown he was set up by the Saudis in a magnificent seaside villa in the Red Sea port of Jiddah (i.e., when we fill up our SUVs part of the money goes to pay for Amin’s wives, cars, servants, etc.).
Idi Amin turned 78 years old on January 1 and currently lives in Mecca.