Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Iraqi Journalists Under Fire

New York Times op-ed contributor Ali Fadhil is an Iraqi who holds one of the most dangerous jobs in his country - he is a journalist. The perils of his occupation come from all sides.

Fadhil writes:

"Today journalists in Iraq face death threats from all sides. The most substantial menace comes from the insurgency and from Islamic extremists who regard journalists as infidels doing the bidding of Jews and Zionists. Many Sunnis think that we are collaborating with the Americans or working as spies for them. So do members of the Shiite militias like Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

"As for the government, many of its employees, who come from the old regime, deny us access, rightly fearing that they will be punished by their superiors for anything they say to us.

"Finally, the American soldiers who were so helpful to us in the early days of the occupation now have a different attitude. By 2005, if an Iraqi journalist aimed a camera at a United States Army convoy, the soldiers' rules of engagement allowed them to shoot. American soldiers have been responsible for the deaths of about 14 journalists in Iraq, the majority of them Iraqis."

Fadhil himself has been seized by insurgents in Falluja, Iraqi police officers in Najaf, the Mahdi Army in Sadr City, Baghdad, and finally by American forces, who raided his home (later giving him $1,500 and an apology for their mistake).

Fadhil concludes that "If our government continues to be dominated by militias and to draw closer to the insurgency and Islamic extremists, then in just a few months, no news will be reported from Iraq at all.

"The Iraq people, however, will continue to suffer."

To read Fadhil's full account, click here.


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