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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 19:05 GMT 20:05 UK
Arab anger at 'savage' Iraq abuse
Abu Ghraib, where abuses allegedly took place
The images have further inflamed Arab opposition to US troops
"Savage" images showing US troops abusing Iraqi prisoners have been denounced by Arab media and observers.

The pictures, aired by CBS, apparently show naked prisoners being forced to simulate sex acts and standing with wires attached to their genitals.

Shock has not characterised all responses. Some commentators professed to be unsurprised.

Qatar-based TV channel Al-Jazeera said the images showed the "unethical and inhuman" conduct of American soldiers.

Al-Arabiya TV condemned the "humiliating" pictures, which demonstrated the soldiers' "savagery".

Lots of similar scenes are still hidden... What we have seen today is just a sample
Mustafa Rageh
Yemeni human rights activist
Both TV stations have been running old footage of examples of heavy-handed conduct by US soldiers in Iraq.

Al-Jazeera was criticised earlier this week by the US State Department, which said its reportage was "inflammatory" and threatened to damage US-Qatar relations.

Both US and UK governments have expressed disgust at the images.

'Humiliation'

In Cairo, a spokesman for Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, said: "We roundly denounce the mistreatment and humiliation" of Iraqi prisoners.

The spokesman, Hossam Zaki, called on the coalition to "punish everyone who has been involved in these savage acts".

Abd al-Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic daily al-Quds al-Arabi, rubbished suggestions the incident was the work of rogue soldiers.

"This is the outcome of the culture of hate that the US administration adopts against the Arabs and Muslims," he told Aljazeera.net.

This is the outcome of the culture of hate that the US administration adopts against the Arabs and Muslims
Abd al-Bari Atwan
Editor-in-chief, al-Quds al-Arabi
"They removed Saddam Hussein for acts of abuse, but who will remove [President George] Bush and [Defence Secretary] Rumsfeld for inciting these acts?"

He said the US administration had lost "the battle of winning the hearts and minds not only in Iraq but in the whole Muslim world".

The pictures only serve to enhance the image the US has in the region, an image many describe as the ugly occupier of an Arab country, says the BBC's Gulf correspondent Julia Wheeler.

The fact that some of the soldiers involved in the alleged mistreatment are women only makes the apparently barbaric behaviour worse among conservative Islamic audiences, she says.

Members of the public in Arab states told the Associated Press news agency they were horrified by the pictures.

'Not isolated'

Omar Boghdady, an Egyptian insurance agent, said he was "disgusted and angered".

"The scenes were really ugly, seeing people piled naked on top of each other blindfolded," he said.

US soldiers detain a man in Iraq
The tarnished US image in Iraq has deteriorated further
In Yemen, human rights activist Mustafa Rageh said he believed "lots of similar scenes are still hidden... What we have seen today is just a sample".

Concerns that the treatment may be replicated in other jails was echoed by human rights group Amnesty International, who said its research indicated the abuse was "not an isolated incident".

A spokeswoman for the group in London said it was "sadly not surprised" by the pictures.

Six soldiers - including a brigadier general - are facing court martial in Iraq, and a possible prison term over the POW pictures, but Amnesty International legal adviser Mervat Rishmawi reportedly said this was not enough.

She said investigations should take place into all allegations of abuse.


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