April 18, 2003

THE WORLD'S favourite political satirist

THE WORLD'S favourite political satirist is now available in doll form:

A US company has produced a speaking doll of the former Iraqi information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, whose news conferences during the assault on Baghdad brought him brief fame, a cult following and the sarcastic nickname "Comical Ali".

In tribute to what it called Sahhaf's "one-man battle against the observable facts", Hero Builders has produced 30-centimetre images, that were available today on its website.

The "Iraqi Dis-Information Minister" doll is for sale at $US24.95 ($A40.80), with the talking version available for $US35.95 ($A59) saying: "There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!" and "Our initial assessment is that they will all die."

The doll isn't much smaller than the real thing, reports Kim Sengupta:

He is a tiny man - not much over 5ft tall - and has a lugubrious face faintly resembling Walter Matthau.

Sengupta, writing in The Spectator, has some intriguing Sahhaf biographical details - and salacious gossip, spread by aides to the Spinmaster himself:

He was born in 1940, and worked as an English teacher in Baghdad before joining the Baath party in his twenties. It is said that he came to the notice of the local leadership as someone worthy of nurturing when he denounced his brother for disloyalty.

There is a rumour, repeated with relish by the 'minders' from the information ministry, that he is gay. That, however, may have something to do with the fact that he is one of the very few men without a moustache one sees in Baghdad.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 18, 2003 03:38 PM