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Call me Saddam

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More than a dozen years since Saddam Hussein abandoned an international architectural competition to build the world's largest mosque in Baghdad - Robert Venturi was one of the entrants - French architect Jacques Barriere has been appointed to build it. This folie de grandeur will hold 45,000 worshippers under a 220m-diameter dome, more than 70m high, and have eight minarets. This is one more than the Grand Mosque in Mecca, and a deliberate snub, no doubt, to Saudi support for us foreign policy in the region. As the French newspaper France-Soir commented last week about Barriere and his engineer partner, Daniel Ganichaud: 'Two Frenchmen go to work for the Pharaoh Saddam and meanwhile famine stalks the banks of the Tigris.'

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