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Iraqis snap up CDs of abuse images

By CNN Correspondent Guy Raz

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Iraq
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- George W. Bush has pledged to demolish Abu Ghraib prison, but the memory of the abuse scandal involving American troops is unlikely to fade quickly from the minds of most Iraqis.

In his speech this week outlining a vision for a democratic Iraq, the U.S. president evoked the prison near Baghdad as a symbol of tyranny under both Saddam Hussein and the U.S.-led occupation.

"Under the dictator, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values."

Bush said Abu Ghraib would be replaced with a new U.S.-funded high-security prison "as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning."

But in Baghdad, the scandal is still seared on the minds of many.

Among the pirated copies of Hollywood movies "Rocky 4," "Titanic" and "Terminator," there is a new blockbuster on the market stalls: a CD containing graphic images of abuse at the notorious jail.

"American Army" sits prominently on the shelves inside a Baghdad street market where men gather in silence to watch.

A voice-over of an imam extols viewers to fight against "Americans, crusaders and Zionists."

One Baghdad resident, Sabri Nasser, said he had come to the market to look for the video. "Now that I have it, I can see it with my own eyes. I see the crimes committed by the Americans against the Iraqi people."

Hassan Hamoud Gati said he had sold more than 6,000 copies of the video, at 50 cents apiece.

To his customers, the pictures simply reinforce a common viewpoint. "At first we were very happy with the prospect of democracy and freedom but now look at what's come with this freedom and democracy," Hassan told CNN.

These kinds of comments are heard frequently outside Abu Ghraib. At a three-day vigil called by a local Islamic group to welcome newly released prisoners, one man said he was able to see the pictures on the inside in Iraqi newspapers.

"When we saw the pictures all the prisoners rallied together and shouted 'God is great!' because we felt humiliated and we Iraqis are a proud people."


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