April Fools Pranksjokes
Saddam Hussein and his sons may have been ruthless, power-hungry dictators, but that didn't stop them from trying to give the people of Iraq a good chuckle every April Fool's Day.
On April 1, 1998 the Babil newspaper, owned by Hussein's son Uday, informed its readers that President Clinton had decided to lift sanctions against Iraq, only to admit later that it was just joking.
One can imagine the knee-slapping guffaws when readers realized how they'd been taken for a ride. The laughs continued in 1999 when Uday mischeviously announced that the monthly food rations would be supplemented to include bananas, Pepsi, and chocolate.
Again, just a joke. At this point, the Husseins appear to have run out of material, because in 2000 they recycled the sanction-lifting gag, and in 2001 trotted out the ration-supplement crowd-pleaser one more time. The merciless quality with which the same joke was repeated year after year had an almost surreal quality to it.
In fact, it almost makes one sympathize with Saudi Arabia's chief cleric, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, who in 2001 decreed that the celebration of April Fool's Day should be banned altogether. It's not known if the Sheikh had his neighbor's hijinks in mind when he issued the ban.