Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The moral outrage continues 

Arab editors - lack of self-criticism and conspiracy theories still predominant - so what's new? Al Jazeera reports on some of the reactions from the Arabic press to the infamous "torture photos": "Arab editors have strongly criticised the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US occupation authorities in Iraq, describing the release of the pictures as a media wake up call."

This from Abd al-Barri Atwan of the London-based "Al-Quds al-Arabi" newspaper: "Human rights violations have been systematic in Iraq, which I am sure the US administration will not be able to hide forever. I believe that honourable journalists will stand up to it. We would like to know now, what they did to Saddam's guard? Goodness knows how he was tortured until he agreed to lead them to the president Saddam's hideout!"

Human rights have been systematic in Iraq alright, but has "Al-Quds al-Arabi" noticed any of them before the American came in? And I just love the concern for that poor guard of Saddam's (by the way, there was no torture involved, just some money, and possibly a blood feud).

And this conspiracy theory from Basim al-Shaikh, editor-in-chief of the Iraqi newspaper "Al-Dostour": "I think the pictures of abused Iraqi prisoners were released to draw the attention of the western audience away from the situation in Falluja, where the US has witnessed a sort of setback."

Wow, those Machiavellian Americans! And guess what - it worked.

If only I had ten cents for every Arab editor and journalist who condemns the American brutality but has stayed silent over the years about far grosser human rights abuses in their own country, or indeed anywhere else in the Middle East. Say what you will about the West, but the actions of those prison guards have been universally condemned by the politicians and the media - including the right-wing media and blogsphere. So, for the sake of their moral credibility, I expect the same sort of condemnation to erupt among the Middle Eastern media the next time a suicide bomber murders more women and children, or another one of Saddam's mass graves is discovered.


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