The chilling video of a U.S. Marine shooting and killing a wounded and apparently unarmed man in Iraq dominated the Arab world’s media Wednesday, overshadowing the slaying of a British aid worker who had been kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents.
The U.S. military said it was expanding its investigation of the Marine shooting in Fallujah to look into whether other wounded men in the mosque were also shot and killed. The probe will try to determine whether the Marine acted in self-defense.
The Marine shooting in a mosque in Fallujah was played and replayed, debated and portrayed as evidence of what many Arabs believe: that the United States is destroying Iraq and Iraqis.
Frames of the Fallujah shooting appeared on many newspaper front pages Wednesday and Arab satellite stations repeatedly aired the footage taken by an American television crew.
Al-Jazeera was among the stations airing the Marine shooting. The station said Tuesday it also had received a videotape showing a blindfolded woman believed to be Margaret Hassan being shot in the head at close range, but had chosen not to broadcast it.
“We don’t show acts of killing,” Jihad Ballout, Al-Jazeera spokesman, said of the decision not to show the slaying of the longtime director of CARE in Iraq. “We’ve never done it before, outside war.”
‘Violence breeds violence’
Adnan Abdul-Rahman, a 34-year-old Syrian government employee, was one of those loosely linking the two killings and placing blame for both at the feet of the United States. He said Hassan’s death was “a normal response to the crimes which the Americans are committing in Iraq.”
“Violence breeds violence,” he said.
The U.S. military said Tuesday it was investigating the shooting in the mosque to determine whether the Marine acted in self-defense.
Some Arabs portrayed the shooting by the Marine as a war crime committed by trigger-happy Americans, and the video as revealing the true face of the U.S. invasion. Others saw it as another debacle in the Iraq war that hurts America’s image and efforts to restore stability in Iraq.
One Lebanese newspaper, As-Safir, called the shooting a “cold-blooded” killing. A Saudi pan-Arab daily, Asharq al-Awsat, warned of “another Abu Ghraib,” a reference to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by some of their American jailers.
Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who is an expert on Arab media, noted that at one point an anchor on Al-Jazeera “was almost having a heart attack, he was so angry,” about the video showing the shooting by the Marine.
“He said, “Where are the Arabs? Where are the Arab states, why is nobody complaining about this?” Cole noted, speaking on the Public Broadcasting Service.
The pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat cited both killings as images of what is happening in Iraq now, Cole noted, calling it unfair for the Marine, whose case remains under investigation, to be compared to those who killed Hassan.
Amman car rental clerk Youssef al-Atoum was so disgusted by the pictures of the Marine shooting that “I switched off the TV.”
‘Americans are criminals’
“The Americans are criminals, they don’t distinguish between a mosque and their places of battle, they want to exterminate Arabs and erase Iraq and its people from the map,” the 29-year-old said.
Jordanian businessman Isa Samawi, 42, said: “Exterminating the Americans is the way to combat international terrorism.”
Both declined to comment on Hassan, saying they had neither seen nor heard news of the killing of the 59-year-old aid worker who had been an opponent of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. She was abducted in Baghdad on Oct. 19 on her way to work, the most prominent of more than 170 foreigners kidnapped in Iraq this year.
A Lebanese Shiite Muslim cleric, Sheik Afif Nabulsi, said both the killing in the mosque and the shooting of Hassan were “barbaric acts that cannot be condoned.”