Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

Mystery tribute channel to Saddam Hussein launched

Saddam Hussein on trial
Saddam Hussein was executed on 30 December 2006

A television channel dedicated to former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has appeared on Arab satellite networks.

Its launch came on the third anniversary, on the Islamic calendar, of the former president's execution.

It is not clear who is behind the channel which broadcasts the speeches, images and even poetry of Saddam Hussein, backed with patriotic music.

It is broadcast from outside Iraq and some analysts suspect his former political supporters of bankrolling it.

Saddam Hussein's family and some exiled members of the Baath party he once headed have denied any connection to it.

The Associated Press news agency said it contacted a man called Mohammed Jarboua who claimed to be the channel's chairman, in the Syrian capital Damascus. However, his claim can not be verified.

'Glorification of a tyrant'

The 'al-Arab' channel, dubbed Saddam TV in Iraq first appeared on Bahrain-based Noorsat and Egypt-owned NileSat on Friday and is also streamed on the Internet.

An Iraqi member of parliament, Jaber Habib Jaber, condemned what he called the channel's "glorification of a tyrant".

One Baghdad resident told the BBC that the channel has become his favourite even though watching it makes him sad for reminding him of when Iraq was safe.

However the BBC's Natalia Antelava in Baghdad says that many in the city are indifferent to the news of the channel's launch.

It comes as Iraqi authorities are gearing up for parliamentary elections that are due to be held in January 2010.

Saddam Hussein was ousted from power during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 after more than two decades in power.

He was later captured, tried and executed in December 2006.

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