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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 15:30 GMT
Arab papers condemn 'savage' UK soldiers

The video showing the alleged beating of Iraqi youths by UK troops has caused outrage in Arab newspapers.

One commentator cites the furore over the deaths of recruits at a UK barracks as proof that violence is rife in the British armed forces.

News headlines in several Iraqi papers focus on the investigation ordered into the abuse claims by the British government.

"UK MoD investigates inhumane violations by soldiers in southern Iraq" announces the Baghdad edition of the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat.

The independent dailies Al-Dustur and Al-Mada also note the "immediate probe" launched by the Ministry of Defence.

Although little editorial comment has been observed in the Iraqi press, papers elsewhere in the Middle East react angrily to the violence captured on the video.

This opens the disgraceful file of the Anglo-American occupation forces' torture of the Iraqi brothers, scorning their dignity and soiling their mosques under the slogan of freedom and democracy
Al-Jumhuriyah

"More than 40 blows with hands and truncheons in less than a minute. This scene reflects a high degree of savagery, violence and sadism," says Libya's Al-Jamahiriyah.

An editorial in Egypt's pro-government Al-Jumhuriyah slams British forces for "attacking unarmed Iraqi youngsters in a savage manner".

The paper rages that the incident has reopened "the disgraceful file of the Anglo-American occupation forces' torture of the Iraqi brothers, scorning their dignity and soiling their mosques under the slogan of freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people".

'Rotten apples'

Although senior Iraqi officials have played down the significance of the allegations, some Middle Eastern papers are not convinced.

Qatar's Al-Watan rejects suggestions such as those made by Iraqi presidential adviser Gen Wafiq al-Samarra'i that the incident was an "isolated case" and links the beating with past abuse claims against US soldiers.

No-one, especially in the Arab world, seriously believes for a nanosecond that the only time that abuse of Iraqis by British troops takes place is when it is captured on film
Saudi Gazette

"This recalls for the Arab and Islamic peoples the scandal of the collective torture of Iraqi detainees at Abu-Ghraib prison at the hands of American soldiers and at the camp at Guantanamo," it says in an editorial headed "New scandal".

The Saudi Gazette also pours scorn on the idea that this was just an isolated incident caused by a few rogue elements within allied forces.

"No-one, especially in the Arab world, seriously believes for a nanosecond that the only time that abuse of Iraqis by British troops takes place is when it is captured on film," the editorial argues.

"British squaddies have a reputation for violence," it alleges, citing the investigation into the deaths of four young soldiers at the Deepcut training barracks as an example.

"The treatment of the young Iraqis required the tacit consent of officers and other soldiers present when this particular incident took place. The 'few rotten apples' theory just won't do," the commentator concludes.

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 bureaux abroad.




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