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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 May, 2004, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Media fury at abuse of Iraqis

Many Arab media sources have reacted with rage to the photos in Western media showing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US and British soldiers.

The two key TV news channels in the Middle East, al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, made the American photos their lead story on Saturday.

"The pictures released by the US CBS news network showing repulsive and immoral practices by US soldiers against Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison have caused a great shock and dismay," al-Jazeera's news announcer said.

"If the photos were a shock to the world public opinion, the shock in Iraq and Baghdad in particular has been much greater," its Baghdad correspondent Al-Habib al-Ghuraybi continued.

"The Iraqis considered the images as an abuse of the Iraqis' humanity and dignity, which is meant to humiliate and insult them on top of the occupation imposed on them."

Threat of violence

"Iraqi citizens are very angry and ready to move at any moment. This may also hold true for the armed fronts," the correspondent said.

Al-Jazeera also highlighted the Daily Mirror's reports and pictures of abuse by British troops. Al-Arabiya TV reported that Britain was to launch an inquiry.

The bizarre and immoral practices of the US occupation become clearer day after day
Syrian television

Both the pan-Arab TV channels cited US President George W Bush expressing "deep dismay at the pictures" and Prime Minister Tony Blair's words of condemnation.

Al-Arabiya TV aired the response from Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN secretary general's envoy to Iraq. "I did not actually see the tape, but I heard about it. Of course, these acts are disturbing and totally unacceptable," he said.

"The international community has the right to ask the United States to make sure that such acts will not be repeated, and that the perpetrators of these acts are penalized."

Anger in newspapers, web sites

The pictures prompted a furious reaction in the region's press and internet sites.

"The Scandal", was the headline Egypt's Akhbar el-Yom newspaper splashed across its front page above photographs of smiling US soldiers posing by naked and hooded inmates.

The aim of this invasion and occupation was primarily to humiliate the Arabs and Muslims
Al-Quds al-Arab

Al-Wafd, an opposition paper, displayed similar photos beneath the words "The Shame!"

In an editorial in pan-Arab newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi on Saturday, chief editor Abd-al-Bari Atwan said the issue was a "moral scandal as well as being a political one".

"What the US forces did and are doing in Iraq confirms to us what we had always warned of, namely, that the aim of this invasion and occupation was primarily to humiliate the Arabs and Muslims and was never for changing a dictatorship or establishing a model of democracy, justice and human rights."

"We are certain that Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri and al-Qaeda supporters are the happiest people on earth as they watch the shameful clips because they have given them the best ammunition for recruiting more frustrated young men who are zealous about their religion, creed and honour."

Arabic-language militant web sites also posted the torture photos.

Several jihadist web sites, including the Saudi dissident Islamic Renewal Organization and al-Ansar posted the series of photos shown on CBS, and readers posted comments expressing outrage and condemnation.

View from Syria and Iran

Reporting the story, state-run Syrian TV said: "The detainees are suffering various types of physical and psychological torture."

"As the difficult situation in occupied Iraq continues, the intensity of the harsh human suffering and the bizarre and immoral practices of the officers and soldiers of the American occupation against Iraqi detainees in Abu-Ghraib prison become clearer day after day."

In Iran, state news agency Irna quoted a former diplomat as saying the "ghastly action" by US soldiers "will adversely affect the Western countries and the pedestal US and Europeans place themselves in respect to the violations of human rights."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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