The circumstances of the hanging of Saddam Hussein have turned the former Iraqi leader into a martyr, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak has said.
Mr Mubarak said the unofficial pictures that emerged of the event were revolting and barbaric.
The chaotic scenes at the execution, during which Saddam was taunted, have been condemned across the world.
Egypt is a key regional ally of the US and one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace deal with Israel.
Mr Mubarak also revealed that he had sent a message to US President George W Bush to urge him not to allow the execution to take place during the Eid al-Adha, the Islamic feast that marks the end of the Hajj.
US officials, including Mr Bush, have distanced themselves from the way in which the execution was carried out, but insisted that justice was served.
The Egyptian president’s comments came in an interview with Israel’s best-selling daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot daily. They were also published by the official Egyptian news agency.
"People are executed all over the world, but what happened in Baghdad on the first day of Eid al-Adha was unthinkable. I didn’t believe it was happening," he said.
"Why did they have to hurry? Why hang him when people are reciting their holiday prayers? Then the pictures of the execution were revolting and barbaric.
"I am not saying whether Saddam did or did not deserve the death penalty. I am also not getting into the question of whether this court is lawful under occupation."
Relations between Egypt and Iraq were friendly until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Egypt participated militarily in the international coalition that drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.
Hosni Mubarak strongly advised the United States not to lead the invasion of Iraq in 2003 in which Saddam Hussein was overthrown.
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Published: 2007/01/05 11:53:30 GMT