Report From the Arab Press

Collated by A.

May 23, 2004

Massacre inside a mosque in Kufa

A new massacre was reported by all Arab media to have been committed by American occupation forces inside a famous mosque in the holy historical city of Kufa near the holy city of Najaf. The Lebanese TV, LBC quoted a physician in Najaf as saying "When we came in the early morning to al-Sahla mosque we found the gates of the mosque damaged as American tanks and armored vehicles had stormed inside," he said, explaining that ambulance teams found 20 people killed including 2 women and thrown inside toilets and 54 wounded. He added 9 of the killed were beheaded. Egyptian v confirmed the mutilation of dead Iraqis and quoted the Egyptian news agency as saying bodies of 3 Iraqis were mutilated by American soldiers.

"The Lebanese TV, al-Manar said the attack, which was carried out by tanks and helicopters early morning, was resisted by al-Mehdi resistance fighters who tried to prevent occupiers from 'desecrating' one of their holiest places. It quoted an eyewitness as saying American forces fired on all those inside, mostly non-combatants. "Some were praying, some resorted to it to spend a night in what they thought would be a safe place. One worshiper was slain inside the main hall and his body was dragged outside. Many adjacent houses were destroyed," he added.

al-Arabiya TV said the toll in Kufa was 32 dead Iraqis in the American air and ground bombing in the Kufa mosque and elsewhere, adding that the people were furious about the American occupiers desecrating holy places

US-installed council failed to respond to POW atrocities

London-based Iraqi Kurdish writer Hanan al-Jaff, in an article published by the al-Quds al-Arabi daily of London, severely criticized the attitude of members of the American-installed Interim Governing Council towards American forces' brutal and immoral abuse of Iraqi POWs. She said their attitude reveals a political failure. "It's quite ironic that while the whole world, including members of American and British governments, expressed protest and condemnation of these inhuman abuses, most members of Interim Governing Council remained silent, either because of indifference to Iraqis' suffering or for fear of an unpredictable reaction from their ruler, Mr.Bremer," insisted the writer. She condemned statements by Ibrahim alAshaigir [known as Ibrahim alJaafari] who said there were more abuse during President Saddam's era. As for Kurdish leader Talibani who dismissed the atrocities as something not serious,she described him as an opportunist who lined vacillated between President Saddam's regime and his opponents several times.

Clashes in Najaf and truce reported in Karbala

Violent clashes continued in the holy historical city of Najaf between American occupation forces and resistance fighters led by Muqtada al-Sadr. Ahmad al-Shaibani, an assistant to al-Sadr, in a statement to al-Jazeera TV denied any negotiations with American occupation forces. He said these news were promoted by American occupiers. al-Quds al-arabi daily said it seems that the American occupiers are determined not to allow any peaceful solution to the explosive crisis in the holy cities and also determined to destroy these holy places. However al-Jazeera TV said American forces pulled out from inside the holy city of Karbala friday afternoon and resistance fighters pulled out Saturday from the streets of the city in accordance with an agreement between the two parties.

Free press and speech under occupation:
More restrictions on press in Iraq

The Iraqi site, said American-handpicked Interim Governing Council [IGC] issued more restrictions on freedom of press in Iraq. These include:

  • a. Any reference to disputes between IGC members is not allowed.
  • b. Criticizing the IGC is banned.
  • c. Opposing federalism for Kurds is banned.
  • d. Relying on IGC spokesman in any related political issue.
  • e. Focusing more on mass graves made by previous regime.

American occupation forces are being accused of restricting freedom of speech and of press. Many Mosque imams were arrested with alleged charges of calling for violence. Two papers were closed, al-Mustaqila last year and al-Hawza, organ of religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr last March. These forces have so far killed 20 journalists, the last of whom was a cameraman with alJazeera TV four days ago in Karbala and arrested many. Militias of IGC members such as the Iranian-sponsored Badr corps led by Abdul-Aziz al-Hakeem and those led by Ahmad Chalabi used to intimidate reporters in their efforts to prevent the media from reporting what's happening in Iraq. American high officials used to attack arab media especially al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya TV.

Did US administration know who Chalabi is?
And an Iraqi advice to American occupiers

Riverbend on the Baghdad Burning site, [edited by an anonymous Iraqi girl from Baghdad] commented on Chalabi's fall-0ut with the US administration: "Chalabi was America's lapdog- why is he suddenly unsuitable for the new Iraq? He was convicted in Jordan several years ago and everyone knows he's a crook and a terrible politician. I'm also convinced that the Bush administration knew full well that he was highly unpopular in Iraq. He's not just a puppet- he's a mercenary. He encouraged the sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and maimed the country itself. He supported the war and occupation vehemently and fabricated lies about weapons and threats to further his cause. He's a criminal- and a lousy one at that."

Previously, the editor of this Iraqi site said: "I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can- while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We'll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go."