Journalistic jihad. From The Times via The Australian, with thanks to Meredith:
BAGHDAD: Sliding out of the insurgents’ house in Fallujah, the Iraqi journalist headed out of town with the Arab fighters’ threat echoing in his ears: “Interview us or we will kill you.”
Before he had reached his car, masked Iraqi fighters sensitive about the presence of foreign guerillas in the city countermanded the order, presenting him with an impossible dilemma. “Broadcast that and we will kill you,” they told 30-year-old television journalist Mohamed Abdul Razzaq.
One day into the campaign for the January election, Iraq’s media are feeling the squeeze in a country where decades of dictatorship has left no legacy of tolerance for free speech.
The London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat closed its Baghdad office yesterday after rebels threatened to blow it up if the paper did not publish within one week a story about Omar Hadeed, the Iraqi guerilla said to be Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s deputy in Fallujah.
“The men said that they sever the heads of those who malign them like they cut off the heads of sheep,” the newspaper said.
Sixty journalists have been killed in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003. Although most of the attention is on Western journalists, those in the Arabic media face daily risks to their lives, and complain of intimidation by insurgents and arrest and confiscation of material by trigger-happy US-led forces.