Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Media freedom in Iraq, part II

Last night I blogged about the Iraqi regime's attempts to intimidate journalists into leaving Najaf. Well, they're getting a little more forceful:

A police lieutenant arrived at the hotel at 6.30pm in a convoy of two Toyota Land Cruisers from the local police station. He demanded to know the whereabouts of correspondents from al-Arabiya and the Reuters and AP news agencies.

As journalists protested, the lieutenant said above the hubbub: "We are going to open fire on this hotel. We are going to smash it up. I will kill you all. You did this all to yourselves." In a threat that did not immediately appear to have been carried out, he said four snipers would be positioned on the roof of the police station to fire at any journalists who left the hotel.

So, what is it they don't want on TV? The eventual US attack on the Imam Ali Mosque? Or the thousands of ordinary Iraqis who have shown up to serve as "human shields" for the shrine?