By: E&P Staff
In today’s USA Today, Elliot Blair Smith hailed the openly opinionated press in Iraq, reporting on nearly 200 newspapers “reflecting a broad spectrum of viewpoints” unthinkable during the regime of Saddam Hussein. This week, for example, some “poked fun” at the new National Assembly’s hasty retreat from its chambers with mortars exploding outside.
One of the leading papers, Al Sabah, was funded with part of the $96 million U.S. seed money to develop the Iraqi media.
Its editor, Mohammad al-Shaboot, 56, said, ?What we need is a serious assembly, independent media, civil society organizations and an active government. These are the four pillars of a democratic state.?
He added that he feels sorry for the 8 million who turned out to vote in January “who risked their lives to vote for this farcical assembly.?
According to Smith, the editor “relishes telling how conservative religious leaders were outraged by the photograph of sultry Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram he recently published. It caused him to limit newspaper truck routes in fundamentalist areas. But, he says, his 53,000-circulation newspaper — priced at 16 cents a copy — sells out daily.”