Iraqi Transportation Minister Embraces Zecharia Sitchin's Ideas, Claims Sumerians Visited Outer Space
OK, it’s time to give up and go home. I know that Iraq is a third world country and that the Coalition Provisional Authority left its new government woefully unprepared to face the challenges of a post-occupation economic, political, and cultural recovery. Indeed, Iraq is full of problems, from the rise of the Islamic State to the influence of Iran and the desire of groups within the country to break away. But what on Earth possessed the country’s transportation minister to endorse the ancient astronaut theory?
Kazem Finjan al-Hamami, currently serving in the Iraqi government, told reporters that the Sumerians built an airport in the country in 5000 BCE and used it to explore outer space. “The first airport that was established on planet earth was in this place,” Finjan told reporters in the southern region of Dhi Qar, home to the ancient cities of Eridu and Ur. “Sumerian spaceships used to launch from here towards the other planets.” He also credited the Sumerians with discovering the dwarf planet Pluto.
(Media sources are divided on whether to refer to him as Mr. Finjan or Mr. al-Hamami, so I went with the British press’s choice. His first name is also transliterated as Kazim.)
Reporters on the scene were stunned into silence, and some speculated that they were afraid to contradict a government official.
Finjan went on to offer his thoughts on angels, which he seemed happy to describe in terms at odds with his professed belief in Islam. Finjan claimed that all angels derive from Sumerian winged beings, a key claim of the ancient astronaut theory, which identifies such beings as the so-called Anunnaki space gods. The Anunnaki were the collective, mostly anonymous gods of heaven and the underworld.
According to media accounts, Finjan cited his claims to Samuel Kramer, the Russo-American Assyriologist who wrote a series of books about the Sumerians in the middle twentieth century. Needless to say, Kramer never provided any of those claims in his books. But—and this is perhaps the true source—Kramer’s books were the key source for Zecharia Sitchin, who did make those claims. It would be easy enough for Finjan to mistake the source Sitchin manipulated for the origin point of the claims.
Indeed, we know this must be the case because Finjan, misunderstanding his source, identified Pluto as the “twelfth planet,” the very name of Sitchin’s most famous book. He seems to have confused Pluto with the hypothesized Nibiru. Sitchin did, however, claim that the Sumerians had observed Pluto and that they believed it to be a former moon that escaped from Saturn’s orbit in historical times. He claimed that Pluto was named Gaga in Sumerian texts.
Fortunately, Iraqis are much smarter than cable television producers, so instead of pretending to give respect to alternative history they immediately and roundly mocked Finjan with a vitriol we rarely see here in the United States, except, perhaps, when Ben Carson said something so utterly ridiculous about the pyramids that even national news reporters realized it was counterfactual. Compare, for example, the relatively restrained treatment given to Hillary Clinton’s professed interest in alien abduction.
Al Jazeera journalist Amer al-Kubaisi, an Iraqi national, tweeted his disdain: “Can you believe that this imbecile is the current Iraqi transportation minister? I thank Allah for the blessing of a brain.”
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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