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Arab voices: Media, Arab leaders taken to task


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A hooded and wired Iraqi prisoner is shown at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, Iraq, in this undated photo.
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(CNN) -- "Voices," an occasional feature of CNN.com, compiles comments on major news issues

The following is an edited selection of reports from Arab media outlets concerning the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

Al-Jazeera.com

The Web site of the Arabic-language satellite television network reported divergent journalists' opinions about why and when the American press released photographs of abused imprisoned Iraqis. A news story from the site includes the following:

Abd al-Barri Atwan editor-in-chief of the London based Arabic newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi believes the publishing of the photographs of abused Iraqi prisoners is a media wake up call.

"The western media has been feeling guilty. I have been sensing a feeling of regret by media organisations and individuals. ... The western media believes it was one of the contributors that guaranteed the success of the invasion of Iraq."

But after recent developments in Falluja, Najaf and other Iraqi cities, and the slower than expected reconstruction, western media has realised that US-UK intentions were not as straightforward as they were told," he said.

... However, Basim al-Shaikh, editor-in-chief of the Iraqi newspaper al-Dostour (The Constitution) does not agree with Atwan, and says western media is driven by selfish rather than emotional motives.

"The western media has nothing to do with emotion. It is driven by the laws of the market." al-Shaikh said.

... Dr Muthana Harith al-Dhari, editor-in-chief of the Iraqi weekly al-Basaer (Visions) believes the US released the pictures to cover its defeat in Falluja.

"...If we look at the pictures, what's new in them? ... Nothing .. we know that such savage acts have been going on, and have protested against them to US occupation authorities. But of course the American people did not know, so they released the pictures to divert their people's attention from the Falluja defeat."

Basim al-Shaikh backs al-Dhari, "...If we look at the media coverage of Iraq, we see that Falluja has retreated to second place."

ArabNews.com

The Web site posted the following editorial:

"...Where is the outrage? Where are the cries of fury from Arab leaders as opposed to comparatively mild rebukes? Do those photographs give those who have thrown in their lot with the United States pause for thought?

... The truth is we don't know because they aren't saying.

So how about the American public? How do they feel when they hear of their nation's finest placing electrodes on the flesh of hooded prisoners, setting attack dogs on them, spraying them with acid and forcing them into humiliating and degrading sexual poses? Not much apparently.

... Instead, their outrage is reserved for flag-draped caskets returning home and the deaths of four "civilian contractors" aka Blackwater mercenaries.

... Frankly, as we see these days, there is little difference between Saddam's brutality and the callous way the "coalition of the billing" is treating the Iraqi people.

...They've toppled Saddam's statues, taken his head off the Iraqi currency and come up with a new flag, strangely reminiscent of Israel's. ...They've flown in Iraqi exiles, many of whom have been living in luxury courtesy of the American taxpayer for decades, to form a puppet council and planned the world's biggest US Embassy to be presided over by John D. Negroponte, whose murky reputation in Honduras goes before him.

...The entire fiasco should be handed over to the United Nations to sort out and put into the capable hands of Lakhdar Brahimi who at least has the guts to speak out.... Once this is done, the world -- and especially the Arab world -- should rally round with cash, expertise and moral support. Together, they should truly forge a free and democratic Iraq. They should fire the council flunkies and ask the Iraqi people who they trust to lead."


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