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European Press Review: To Publish or Not to Publish?

The decision to publish photos of the corpses of Saddam Hussein’s two sons has prompted reactions in several European papers, while other editorialists commented on Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas' visit to Washington.


The news and images of Uday and Qusay Hussein's death shocked Baghdad

To publish or not to publish? That was the dilemma facing Europe’s newspaper editors on Friday once the shocking images of the corpses of Uday and Qusay Hussein had been released.

Britain’s The Independent resolved the problem by printing the photos across half of its front page. But it obscured the images beneath a wash the color of dried blood, and a long comment from its Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk. Inside, the paper’s editorial justified the pictures, saying that while the public display of corpses for propaganda purposes is of course obnoxious, and the parading of enemy dead by the victors uncivilized, the case of Saddam Hussein’s sons is a special one. The paper wrote that it matters greatly to many Iraqis whether or not Uday and Qusay are dead, as the Americans claim. It must be hard for them to believe that the dictatorship of the past quarter-century is really broken, the paper summarized.

Italy’s La Repubblica found it difficult to believe that America of all places should decide to turn the disfigured corpses into a spectacle. The paper commented in disgust that doing so was like a hunter displaying his kill by strapping it to the roof of his car, and wondered how this could come from a country which prides itself on upholding what it terms "Western values." The paper added that the publication of the photographs will do nothing to stop attacks on American targets.

With Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Washington for talks with U.S. President George W. Bush, France’s La Croix welcomed the current break in the cycle of violence, and wrote that it’s up to Bush to give fresh impetus to the peace process in the Middle East.

But the Russian daily Wremja M.N. was of the opinion that without the clear support of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Abbas lacks the necessary authority. On the one hand he’s given a full mandate to discuss the peace plan with the United States, but on the other he’s criticized for meeting too often with the Israeli leader, the paper wrote. Both Israel and Abbas’ own people expect too much of him, it stated.

Austria’s Der Standard commented on the ambitions of the country’s native son, Hollywood action-man Arnold Schwarzenegger, to run for governor of California. This is more than just the whim of a brainless bodybuilder, it wrote. Arnie has already made a name for himself as an honorary advisor to George Bush senior. He’s a true professional who succeeds in almost everything he does, the Austrian paper enthused. Although he still can’t speak English without an accent, his mastery of political phraseology is almost perfect.