Friday, January 9, 2004

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:


A meeting of minds

This Jan. 6 editorial in Al-Siyassi newspaper, published by the Independent Political Prisoners Association, bemoans Arab television reports about Iraq that carry fabrications and lies:

BAGHDAD — In a state of indifference, while I was surfing television channels that were allowed to enter our homes in the month of September 2003 to be specific, I stood face to face with a female reporter in the Egyptian Al-Neel [Nile] television channel while she presented a report about Iraq; mainly about Baghdad which I have not left since the fall of the despot’s statue in April of the same year.

The reporter described a situation in Baghdad that we have not seen or experienced. She stood in front of the camera with her blond hair and tough gestures and talked about millions of destitute Iraqis who had lost their jobs following the “occupation” — as she called it — closed schools, people who do not allow their sons and daughters to go out for fear of kidnapping, markets shut and streets empty of pedestrians, hospitals without beds and medicine … and a tomorrow, that by all the evidence, will be bleaker than today.

She continued … to paint a picture to the viewers that has nothing to do with the true reality whatsoever. After a long contemplation … I remembered this lady, but could not quite identify her until she finished her report and signed out with: “Maysoun Al-Moussawi, your correspondent in Baghdad.”

Maysoun Al-Moussawi does not need an introduction. She was one of Uday’s close friends and hosted the famous program “What if you were —” in which — with Uday’s approval — she dared challenge any official.

She was a member of a cell in the defunct Ba’ath party and a member of the leadership of the Iraqi Women Alliance.

(Translation provided by the Middle East Research Institute,

Le Monde

A divisive presidency

PARIS — Like no president before him, [President Bush] has exacerbated the American fracture line. On the coasts and big cities, there is a rather liberal political tradition, built out of tolerance in moral matters, where one isn’t necessarily convinced that the country personifies The Truth and The Good.

In the South and inland, there is a political culture increasingly marked by religion where traditional family values are valued as highly as hypernationalist patriotism, and the Bible and the Star Spangled Banner stand as a manifesto.

On one side, the democratic nation; on the other, the republican nation. And in between them, less and less in common.

Asahi Shimbun

Afghanistan’s new constitution

TOKYO —The 2001 Bonn accord, backed by the United Nations, called for setting up an interim government composed of representatives of ethnic groups, establishing a new constitution by the end of 2003 and holding elections in June 2004. The political process up to the halfway point — enacting a new constitution — more or less is on schedule.

Yet, the content of the new constitution is far from what the international community had sought. Under the new constitution, the country is henceforth to be called the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It says all laws must conform to the teachings of Islam.

Basic human rights, such as freedom of thought and beliefs, are guaranteed, but only within the framework of Islamic teachings and legislation. This provision is heavily imbued with the ideas of the old guard. There is a real danger that freedom of political activities and religious beliefs could be constrained by this provision.

While a road map for reconstruction of Afghanistan has been made, the country still faces a bumpy road ahead. … For Afghanistan to move to the next stage of its reconstruction, with the promise of elections, it is essential that it benefits from the firm support offered by the international community.

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