Residents Appalled, Unamused At Park Bench Mysteriously Dedicated to Saddam Hussein

Dedication plaques on benches are a common sight, but one new addition to a bench in a park off a busy street in the London neighborhood of Wanstead has residents confused as to who put it there and appalled at the metal plaque’s subject: Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The plaque reads: “In loving memory of… Saddam Hussein, 1937 – 2006,” and is secured to the bench with special anti-theft screws.

Nearby resident Melissa Munday-Chanin told the U.K.’s The Independent that she had to see the plaque for herself after her mother told her what she’d noticed while passing by.

“I thought she surely must’ve been mistaken but to my horror she was right,” Munday-Chanin told The Independent. “I think someone celebrating the life of a man who’s caused such terror is outrageous. And if it’s a joke, it’s not remotely funny.”

Many of her neighbors — at least the only ones The Independent decided to publish — agree that the “loving” memorial plaque must be some kind of prank meant to get people worked up.

In a country home to Sacha Baron Cohen — who made the mockumentary Dictator in the aftermath of the Arab Spring — it wouldn’t be surprising at all to find Cohen or an imitator affixed the metal simply to get a reaction. And in that case, the best thing to do is not react.

Even so, no one knows for sure yet whether it’s a prank or real. In today’s reality, there likely are some who miss “the good ol’ days” when Saddam was around. If it’s a prank, it fell flat and is terribly unfunny and someone’s out a few bucks. Either way, the residents will hopefully be able to remove it as soon as possible, seeing as seemingly no one in the community wants it there.