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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 December 2006, 14:04 GMT
Saddam death sparks media storm
Iraqis in Sadr City, Baghdad, celebrate the execution of Saddam Hussein
Iraqi Shi'ites took to the streets to celebrate
The media in the Middle East have been transfixed by the story of Saddam Hussein's execution.

The main state-funded Iraqi television channel, Al-Iraqiya, has been jubilant in tone, combining coverage of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha with the "the happy day of the execution of Saddam".

Throughout the morning, the channel repeatedly broadcast footage of the former Iraqi leader being led to the gallows and scenes of Iraqis celebrating in the streets, to the strains of a folk song calling for Saddam's death.

Mixed reaction

The channel showed clips of Iraqis emotionally praising Saddam Hussein's death, but no criticism of the execution was shown.

Coverage on the international Arabic-language TV stations has been more balanced, reflecting conflicting attitudes towards Saddam Hussein in the wider Middle East.

Al-Jazeera TV interviewed several commentators who defended Saddam's record as an Iraqi and Arab leader, but the presenters' questioning was challenging and neutral in tone.

The channel also broadcast an interview with a man it described as a representative of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, who described the execution as an "ugly crime" and said the Iraqi insurgency would seek to avenge the former president.

A commentary on Egyptian state radio questioned the wisdom of executing Saddam Hussein during Eid al-Adha, and suggested the execution was illegal.

"It is no secret to anyone that the trial was carried out under the auspices of the American occupation," the radio said, adding: "There can be no claim that the former Iraqi president had a fair trial."

'Mistake'

While the actual execution came too late for the press, the event had been anticipated in the Saturday editions of the international Arabic-language newspapers, based in London.

A commentary in one newspaper, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, said the execution of Saddam Hussein could not come soon enough.

"The real question which the Iraqi and US authorities should be asked is, why was the trial and execution of the former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, delayed?" the article said.

However, Abd-al-Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief Al-Quds al-Arabi, wrote that the execution would be the United States' "worst mistake" in Iraq, leading to an increase in violence and destroying any chances for national reconciliation.

He also thought people in the wider Arab world would remember the former Iraqi leader fondly.

"The Arab people will remember President Saddam Hussein as the sole Arab leader who fired 40 missiles into Tel Aviv and stood with the Palestinian resistance," he said.

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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The press in Iraq
26 Jan 05 |  Middle East



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