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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 20:04 GMT
Abuse images shown across Arab TV
By Sebastian Usher
BBC World media correspondent

Image of suspected Abu Ghraib abuse. Courtesy SBS television
Image of suspected Abu Ghraib abuse. Courtesy SBS television
The new pictures showing alleged US abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2003, first aired by an Australian TV channel, are being shown on Arab television stations across the Middle East.

The most influential Arab channel, al-Jazeera, is showing the latest images at the top of its bulletins, describing them as showing "further acts of humiliation much stronger than those that were published before".

Al-Jazeera has displayed most of the pictures that were broadcast on the Australian TV station, SBS.

It quoted SBS's comments: "These are the pictures the US government didn't want you to see."

The problem facing the American government now is the timing of the leaking of these pictures
Al-Jazeera Washington correspondent
Al-Jazeera's Washington correspondent said the timing could not be worse for the US and suggested the pictures would have more credibility because of their source.

"If al-Jazeera had been the first to air these pictures, the story would have been different," he said.

"The problem facing the American government now is the timing of the leaking of these pictures, when the world is witnessing sharp tension between the Muslim world and the West as a result of the anti-Prophet Muhammad cartoons."

The Arab television station run by Iran, al-Alam - which has a big audience in Iraq - has also featured the story strongly.

But it only showed two or three of the pictures, explaining that the rest would be too offensive for its viewers. It did describe them in some detail, however.

Fierce reaction

The Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV station - owned by Saudis - has made less of the pictures so far, reporting on them only briefly.

In Iraq, the privately-owned channel al-Sharqiyah started showing the pictures several hours after al-Jazeera, ensuring that - one way or another - most Iraqis will have been able to see the images for themselves.

The original pictures of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib ignited outrage across the Arab world two years ago.

The anger was propelled by the extensive Arab media coverage of the scandal.

Washington is likely to be holding its breath to see how fierce the reaction in the Arab world is this time.

New Abu Ghraib images broadcast
15 Feb 06 |  Middle East

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