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Arabs repulsed, furious over prison photos

May 2 2004 at 6:49 AM
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ParaKAJAT  (Login ParaKajat)

The hornet's nest disturbed:
(CNN) -- Graphic pictures showing the apparent abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. and British soldiers in Iraq have angered Arabs across the world, as well as U.S. and British officials.

The images of U.S. soldiers' actions were first broadcast Wednesday by U.S. TV network CBS and then by Al-Arabiya network, based in the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar-based Al-Jazeera on Friday.

Newspapers across the Arab world ran the photographs of U.S. soldiers humiliating hooded, naked detainees at Abu Ghraib prison on their front pages. Newspapers in Iraq did not carry the photos.

The U.S. military said six soldiers have been charged with criminal offenses for abusing inmates at Abu Ghraib prison, which was infamous under Saddam Hussein's reign.

"It would appear to us that if, in fact, the pictures are what they appear to be, they will face a court of law, a criminal court of law, and they will have to face a judge and a jury for their actions," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said.

With Arabs still reeling from the anger caused by the pictures aired initially by CBS, news of photographs showing British soldiers apparently abusing Iraqi prisoners, published in London's Daily Mirror newspaper on Saturday, spread through the Arab world.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said any abuse of Iraqi prisoners was "completely and totally unacceptable" and, if the photographs proved to be genuine, he would "condemn it utterly."

"We went to Iraq to get rid of that sort of thing, not to do it," Blair said.

"I think in fairness however, we should say, that there are thousands of British troops in Iraq doing a very brave, extraordinary job on behalf of the Iraqi people and on behalf of our country to make the country better," he added.

British Army commander Gen. Michael Jackson, speaking on behalf of Britain's minister of defense, said he was aware of the allegations and that the ministry has launched an investigation.

"If proven, not only is such appalling conduct clearly unlawful, but it also contravenes the British Army's high standards of conduct," Jackson said in a statement. (Full story)

The front page of Saturday's Daily Mirror shows a man dressed in fatigues urinating on a hooded and restrained person, with blood seeping from the hood. Among other photos inside the paper is one of a man ramming a gun into the groin of a hooded man.

As news of the photographs spread through the Arab world, there were warnings that it could severely damage relations between British troops and local people.

European newspapers featured pictures that purportedly show abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. jailers.

Ahmed al-Sheik, editor-in-chief of Arab TV news Al-Jazeera, said U.K. forces in Basra prided themselves on being able to patrol the streets without hard helmets or body armor.

But he said: "When these pictures come to be seen by the Iraqi public, I think things will change. These scenes are humiliating not only to the Iraqis, but to every Arab citizen around the world," the U.K. Press Association reported.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram called for a "swift full and in-depth inquiry" into what appeared to be "wholly unacceptable and damaging" misconduct.

And Liberal Democrats, who opposed the war, demanded that Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon appear before the Commons on Tuesday to make a statement.

Party leader Charles Kennedy said: "If true, such treatment of people is a total disgrace and a disservice to all that we stand for and to what needs to be achieved in Iraq. "This issue must be resolved as soon as possible before more damage is done to the reputation of our forces."
Anger in Arab capitals

A government-leaning newspaper in Egypt, Akhbar el-Yom, showed the photographs of U.S. soldiers posing by naked, hooded inmates, under the banner "The Scandal". Al-Wafd, an opposition paper, displayed similar photos beneath the words "The Shame," reported The Associated Press.

In Cairo, a spokesman for the Arab League said it had complained of abuses by U.S.-led forces after a mission to Iraq in December. The League feared more cases of ill-treatment were going unnoticed, he said.

"It is beyond the words of despicable acts and disgust that we feel at watching such photographs," Hossam Zaki told Reuters.

"The irony of it is that Saddam Hussein never really held a banner of spreading freedom...He was an autocratic ruler, a dictator, a repressive ruler, whatever you want to call him. It was expected to witness such atrocities under his rule," he said, according to the Reuters report.

There are more fools in the world than there are people.
-Heinrich Heine


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