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Ghaith Abdul-Ahad on Free Media in Iraq

Last week Fakher Haidar al-Tamimi became the 36th Iraqi journalist to be killed in Iraq since the beginning of the war. Yesterday, his friend, Iraqi photojournalist and co-author of the upcoming CGP release Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq Ghaith Abdul-Ahad wrote a poignant piece in the The Guardian, exposing the disproportionate dangers that Iraqi journalists face:

As reporting from Iraq is becoming almost impossible, new ground rules have been set for most of the foreign media. Apart from a handful of journalists, everyone goes out in armed convoys, if they go out at all. If you are six feet tall, fair-haired and stupid enough to come to Baghdad, then you might as well stick to the hotel swimming pool or your agency fortress, and the occasional trip embedded with the US Army. Instead you can count on your Iraqi employees to go out and get you the story.

A mixture of guilt, responsibility and ambition keeps driving Iraqi journalists to push the limits a bit further every time. The intoxication you get from reporting the truths after so many decades of lies is indescribable. You feel you can tell the world what is really happening, but you also feel that you are safe because of the way you look, because of your scruffy beard or your moustache. But far from being immune, the Iraqis are the ones getting killed.

Iraqi journalists, like local journalists all over the world, don’t have the luxury of leaving the country every few weeks at the end of their stint. The few who do get to leave the country end up like refugees, drinking heavily in London pubs before being dragged back into the inferno.


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