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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Iraq ranks 148th in the world in press freedom

Scott Peterson writes in the Christian Science Monitor:
Forty-four journalists have been killed in Iraq since March 2003, making the country the deadliest in the world for the profession, according to a report by Reporters Without Borders released Tuesday. Overall, the country ranked 148th in the world for press freedom.

For Iraqis, it's been a tough transformation after decades of control under Saddam Hussein.

Back then, the word "journalist" hardly applied to members of the media here. Their daily diet was Saddam Hussein, again and again.

"It's a big jump from four newspapers - each one a copy of the other, designed in the office of Saddam Hussein - to 120 papers," says Zuhair al-Jizary, a novelist and editor of Al-Mada newspaper, who lived outside Iraq for more than 20 years.

"The language has completely changed. Now we have complete freedom of the press," he says. "I can criticize the US, and every day I criticize their behavior and military operations without hesitation."

"But I can't trust that this freedom will carry on for a long time," says Jizary, noting pressure from security officials and the interior ministry. "These people have no common language with the press, hide the facts, and limit [news] sources."

Beside getting short shrift from officials in Iraq, local journalists and photographers - while at least able to get to the scene of an attack - find they are frequently prevented from working by Iraqi police or US forces.

Full story here.


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