Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in an interview published on Friday that the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was shameful, unthinkable, and turned the ex-dictator into a martyr.
"It was shameful and very painful," Mubarak said in an interview with Israel's mass-selling Yediot Aharonot daily.
The interview marked the first comments by the Egyptian leader on Saddam's hanging at dawn on December 30, as Muslims began celebrating the Eid al-Adha festival (feast of sacrifice).
"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.
"In the end, no one will ever forget the circumstances and the way in which Saddam was executed. They turned him into a martyr, and the problems in Iraq remained."
Saddam's hanging has sparked outrage among Sunni Muslims, for taking place on the first day of one of the most important Muslim holidays, and for the grainy video released afterward that showed he was taunted and mocked as he stood on the gallows.
"Even before they carried out the hanging, I conveyed a message to (US) President (George W) Bush.
I am asking, I said, that if this is what is going to take place soon, don't do it at this date. Why did they have to hurry? Why hang him when people are reciting their holiday prayers? And then they publish horrific images, primitive photos.