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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 May, 2005, 19:07 GMT 20:07 UK
Media show distaste for Saddam photos

The Arab press has made relatively little of the Sun's decision to publish photos of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in captivity.

Saddam Hussein
Al-Jazeera decided not to show the Sun's photos

But the story has made more of a mark on the region's TV screens, with the influential al-Jazeera news channel leading the way.

The Qatar-based channel set its stall out in a brief item at the end of its news bulletin, saying that it was unable to show the photos for "professional and moral reasons".

Instead, it showed an old photo of the former Iraqi leader in suit and tie in court.

The station also quoted a member of Saddam Hussein's legal team condemning the pictures as a breach of the Geneva Conventions, and threatening to sue the Sun.

Later on in its coverage, al-Jazeera ran an interview with Sa'd Jabbar, a London-based Arab attorney, who agreed that the photos violated the rules designed to protect prisoners of war.

Mr Jabbar complained that, in Britain and the US, "it has become common to underrate the Arabs and violate their rights, feelings and dignity".

Fall from grace

Other Arab broadcasters, however, took a slightly different line.

Iraq's al-Sharqiyah chose to show the pictures, and pointed out that the former president looked "worried, far from the splendour in which he used to appear".

However, the channel saw no reason to run the story any earlier than 20 minutes into its bulletin.

The publication of the pictures also earned a mention on Egypt's Nile News TV and Moroccan radio, although purely as the subject of straightforward news reports.

All of the US rhetoric about freedom and respect for human rights is mere nonsense
Al-Quds al-Arabi

But the clearest signs of antipathy to the photos surfaced on the pan-Arab TV channel al-Arabiya, in a series of interviews with Iraqis.

"There should be respect for the title of former president, regardless of whether he was a dictator, oppressor or tyrant," one woman told the station.

Another interviewee said: "We are the country of civilisations. We are the masters of the world. We taught the world the alphabets. It is not acceptable to show a president in such a way."

'Insults'

This sentiment was echoed in the Saturday edition of the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, one of the few Arab dailies to comment on the photos.

But the paper directed its criticism not at the Sun for its decision to publish, but at the US administration for launching a "new series of insults".

"This kind of behaviour contradicts all international rules, conventions and agreements," it said.

"Above all," the paper seethed, "it confirms to us, once again, that all of the US rhetoric about freedom and respect for human rights is mere nonsense."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.




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