Angry Arabs Say Baghdad Market Blast U.S. Massacre
DUBAI A massacre, a crime against humanity, another U.S. atrocity against the people of Iraq.
These were some of the words many Arabs and much of the Middle East's state-run press used on Saturday to describe Friday's devastating air assault on a busy Baghdad market that an Iraqi doctor said killed 62 people and wounded 49.
"Dreadful massacre in Baghdad," said a banner headline in Egypt's mass circulation Akhbar al-Youm newspaper, with half its front page covered by photographs of two young victims of the blast in the rundown Shula neighborhood.
"Martyrs' blood flows yet again in Baghdad," said Bahrain's Akhbar al-Khaleej. "A new atrocity and humanitarian disaster committed by the Americans," Yemen's Thawra newspaper added.
"Yet another massacre by the coalition of invaders," read the main headline in Saudi Arabia's popular Al Riyadh daily.
Graphic images of distraught Iraqis wailing over bloodied corpses of relatives -- many of them women and children -- filled television screens shortly after the attack, fueling Arab rage at this deeply unpopular war which has incited even more anti-American fury in the region.
The widely watched al-Jazeera satellite television channel gave prominence to the Friday night incident, airing repeatedly gory pictures of strewn body parts and frail, wounded toddlers moaning on hospital beds.
The United States has said it is checking to see whether its forces were responsible for the blast that ravaged the mainly Shi'ite Muslim Shula neighborhood, but many Arabs said they had no doubt the Americans were to blame.
"The Americans can go to hell," Egyptian coffee shop waiter Mohamed Shukman spat out. "They don't care about Iraqi civilians, they just want Iraq's oil."
"This is brutality, the Americans have no right to do this," declared veiled Egyptian businesswoman Rawya Shaker. "This is colonialism, this is an aggression against innocent people. This is something even an infidel wouldn't do."
WARNING OF JIHAD CALLS
Anger at the United States over the attack was also running high in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which has witnessed some of the bloodiest anti-war protests in the region.
"This is mayhem, just watching it gave me the creeps," said 25-year-old university graduate Tamer Ali. "This is shameful, it's unlawful. The Americans are killing women and children."
Syria has had its share of war casualties when a U.S. missile accidentally hit a busload of workers and many people there said they identified with the victims of Shula.
"I was watching what was happening and I found myself cursing for the first time in my life," said bashful 17-year-old student Lama. "I felt I wanted to kill not only curse."
Many Jordanians and Saudis -- whose countries are key U.S. allies that border Iraq -- also poured scorn at the United States and warned it that any more attacks on civilians would fuel calls by Islamist radicals for jihad or holy war.
Jordanians and Saudis are already furious with the United States for its support of what they see as Israel's brutal crackdown on a Palestinian independence uprising, and the Shula attack only intensified their rage.
"Everyone now wants to be like Osama bin Laden," said Muhanad Abdullah, an outraged Jordanian computer programmer. "They have made thousands of bin Ladens. They will see what the future will bring upon them."
The United States and Britain say they are invading Iraq to liberate its people from its "tyrant" President Saddam Hussein. While many Arabs have no sympathy for the Iraqi leader, they are set against this war.
"I am not defending Saddam, but we don't have to kill a whole population and destroy a nation to remove him," said Egyptian pharmacist Ehab Abdul Latif.
Bahraini businessman Taqi al-Zirah agreed.
"The Americans say they are liberating Iraq but you can only make peace through peaceful means, not by terror," he said.
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