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BBCs Paul Wood er stasjonert i Kairo og har tatt pulsen på det som kalles the Arab Street etter at bildene fra Abu Ghraib ble offentliggjort. Bildene vekker sterke reaksjoner.

De transarabiske TV-kanalen pumper ut bildene igjen og igjen. Det er Wood selv som bruker uttrykket «fråtse» i overgrepene. Enkelte går enda lenger: Al-Jazeera sier f.eks.: «The time will come when Iraqis will react to this,» said al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya have both been criticised by the coalition, accused of hostile, inflammatory and inaccurate coverage. In common with the rest of the Arab media, they say the photographs show they were right all along.

Denne type propaganda hører vi aldri norske journalister kritisere. TV-kanalene gjengir likt og ulikt, uten forsøk på verifisering. Det sirkulerer bilder av voldtekt av irakiske kvinner, av noe som forestiller amerikanske soldater, men bildene virker ikke ekte, sier Woods.

The danger for the coalition – and the West in general – is that in this climate, anything bad will be believed of US and British troops in Iraq.

The Iraqi newspaper al-Bayyinah carried a 2,000-word article, under the headline «Homosexuals Abuse Iraqis», which said that Abu Ghraib had been turned into a «cowboy night club».

«US soldiers drink alcohol over the prisoners’ bodies while the minarets make the call to prayer,» it said.

Wood har en interessant historie. Han dumper borti en kuwaitisk gjesteforelser ved Cairo University, som havner i munnhuggeri med studentene. Mannen våger å si noe alle vet, men ingen våger si: bildene fra Irak er det som vanligvis skjer i arabiske fengsler.

Nearby, at Cairo University, a furious row was going on with the photographs being brandished in the face of a visiting academic who was brave enough to defend the Americans.

The Kuwaiti political scientist, Dr Shamlan al-Eesa, was pointing out an uncomfortable truth. In many parts of the Middle East, this is how the police are expected to behave.

«These things happen every day in the Arab world, but no one reports it,» he says. «That is the difference between the Arab world and the West – the West admits these things and tries to do something about it.»

Even if the images are staged, the damage has been done
He was on his own. «This reveals the real nature of the United States and its policy,» said a female student. «Democracy and human rights – all illusion.»

Arab anger at Iraq torture photos

By Paul Wood
BBC Middle East correspondent in Cairo