For many in the Arab streets, the disturbing pictures are further proof the US ‘liberators’ are not better than the ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“They keep asking why we hate them? Why we detest them? Maybe they should look well in the mirror and then they will hate themselves,” said Khadija Musa from Syria.

“The liberators are worse than the dictators,” said Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor of the Arab newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi.

The CBS News programme 60 Minutes on Wednesday broadcast photos taken at Abu Ghraib prison late last year, showing US troops abusing Iraqis being held by them.

Humiliation

The pictures showed US soldiers smiling, posing, laughing or giving the thumbs-up sign as naked, male prisoners were stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts with one another.

"The liberators are worse than the dictators"

Abd Al-Bari Atwan
E
ditor, al-Quds al-Arabi

“This will increase the hatred of America, not just in Iraq but abroad. It is not just a picture of torture, it is degrading. It touches on morals and religion,” said Saudi commentator Dawud al-Shiryan.

“Abu Ghraib prison was used for torture in Saddam’s time. People will ask now: 'What’s the difference between Saddam and Bush?' Nothing!” al-Shiryan added.

The Arab League also expressed its outrage and urged punishment of those responsible.

Condemnation

“We roundly denounce this mistreatment and humiliation, which is contrary to human rights and to international conventions concerning the protection of civil populations under occupation,” said Husam Zaki, spokesman for Arab League chief Amr Musa.

Most Arabs said Washington’s credibility as the world’s leader of democracy and human rights stood exposed.

“These soldiers are being touted as saviours of the Iraqi people and America claims to be the moral leader of the world, but they have been caught with their pants down, they have been exposed, the whole world sees them as they really are,” Egyptian writer Mahmud Walid said.

“This was not just the humiliation of those poor Iraqis. I felt humiliated too and so all Muslims and their leaders should feel,” said Palestinian Mahmud Shakir.