Iraqi transportation minister Kadhem Finjan al-Hamami claimed this weekend that Iraq was home to the world’s first airports 7,000 years ago, when Sumerians would launch spaceships that reached other planets.
Al-Hamami’s statements, which were reported by Al Jazeera, puzzled onlookers and even appeared to confuse his entourage who stood silently behind him as he delivered his statements at a press conference in Dhi Qar – a province in Iraq’s southern region near Basra.
“It’s a long story, maybe you don’t know about it. Maybe even people from Dhi Qar don’t know - the first airports that were built on planet Earth were built in the 5th Century BC in Dhi Qar.”
Al-Hamami’s went on to discuss the uniqueness of Dhi Qar, claiming that the region is renowned for being the safest in the world for flight. This is why, in his view, the Sumerians decided to build their airports there – and to create a space program predating NASA by 7,000 years.
“There were Sumerians who launched spaceships [from Dhi Qar] and headed to other worlds.” al-Hamami claimed. Among his other claims were that Sumerians discovered an 11th planet, which they named “Nibiru”, and the Sumerians themselves were actually angels.
Naturally, not everyone bought al-Hamami’s story. Many took to Twitter the lambast the transport minister for making his country appear stupid:
@Wesal_TV— مشعل العبيگه (@m_allabeikeh) October 1, 2016
أحد المركبات الفضائية التي أقلعت من
مطار الناصرية قبل 4997 عام وحطت
ركابها في الفلبين !!
بكيفكم لا تصدقون pic.twitter.com/IqTUoMK98D
"One of the spaceships that were launched from the al-Nasariya airport [in Dhi Qar] 4997 years ago, taking its passengers to the Phillipines! How can you not believe?"
@ibrahim_alfares— hamad alzubairy (@hamadalzubairy) October 1, 2016
حتي الاشخاص من خلفه منبهرين من كبر الكذبه يبولعون ريقهم ههههه
"Even the people behind him are shocked at how big of a lie he’s telling, taking nervous gulps hahahaha."
@Madmarham @A1_7amad_ad_UAE مبين نوع هذا الحشييش Limited Edition— بـــوالـــريــم (@bureem111) October 1, 2016
"Looks like this is some Limited Edition hashish right here."
Others considered the situation from a more political standpoint, noting that the state of the Iraqi government leaves much to be desired in the eyes of many.
@IraqiSpringMC @IQsunni الله يلعنك يابوش— ابومريم (@ahmadggggg91) October 1, 2016
"God damn you George Bush."
@Abdullah_KGH @abodehman— تحت الساعة (@T7tEssa3ah) September 30, 2016
الله يعين الشعب العراقي !! بعدما كان اقل نسبة أُميه في العالم العربي زمن صدام حسين، يحكمه الآن هؤلاء الافاقون !!
"God damn the Iraqi people! They once had the lowest illiteracy rate in the Middle East with Saddam Hussein, and now these baffoons are running the country!"
Others brought sectarianism into the frey, taking into account that the south of Iraq is where the majority of the nation’s Shias reside.
@Madmarham @ffhhdd11 هؤلاء محششين ايران يحكمون في العراق— ana al kaleje (@anaalkaleje) October 1, 2016
"These are Iran’s potheads running Iraq." (Iran – like southern Iraq – is majority Shia.)
It turns out that this isn’t al-Hamami’s first strange statement at a press conference. Earlier in the year, he joked that he was had been in the Iraqi government long enough to have rode on Noah’s Ark.
@IraqiSpringMC @amam41619 صحيح أنت كنت في سفينة نوح عليه السلام وكنت الخنزير أكل مخلفات باقي الحيوانات— Faisal Abdullah (@QSaeed27) October 1, 2016
والله أصدقك يا خوخو
"Right, you were on Noah’s Ark as well, peace be upon him. You were one of the pigs on the ship eating the s*** of the rest of the animals. Really, I believe you."
Despite what may have happened in Iraq’s past, it might be awhile before this transportation minister presides over “spaceships”.