Press freedom oppressed in Iraq:Is this what was supposed to be? [Archives:2004/731/Viewpoint]

April 22 2004

The recent ongoing conflicts, violent confrontations, curfews, and house stormings in Iraq have made most Iraqis disbelieve the so-called democracy the US intends to bring to the country. It is obvious that this type of democracy isn't at all what they thought they would get.
But what US forces dead in the last few months resemble are the most outrageous acts, which totally contradict the basic essence of the freedom of expression, which is among the main pillars of democracy.
First of all, the closure of the Al-Hawza newspaper is in my opinion a major blow to the whole democratization process that the occupying alliance tried to defend. What on earth could a newspaper do to damage the security situation in a country? Don't newspapers in the US sometimes publish more aggressive articles and opinions? Or is this action implemented outside of the US only?
On the other hand, the journalists killed in Iraq by coalition forces, including the two reporters of Al-Arabia Satellite channel, was again a serious blow to the claims that the occupying forces respect journalists and the freedom of the press.
But what is even more puzzling for many journalists in the Arab world, and I suppose worldwide, is the mysteriously harsh and obviously too aggressive statements of military generals accusing channels such as Al-Jazeera of 'producing lies', just as was mentioned by Rumsfeld during the early stages of the war in Iraq when snapshots of humanitarian disasters were shown to the public everywhere.
A government believing in the freedom of press should have not made such actions against professional TV networks, whose sole aim is to report the truth as seen on the ground.
In brief, I believe that the US forces in Iraq have a serious challenge in convincing the Iraqi people of their plans to democratize the country
Furthermore, the killing of innocent civilians using sophisticated F17 planes is also another indication of the unjust treatment Iraqis are getting, compared to Americans killed in combat. It is not only the press that was targeted, but also normal civilians who were targeted.
The double standard policy executed in Iraq does not only contradict the basics of the democracy claims the US government is presenting, but it is bringing more hatred and violence to the US forces and nationals on the ground.
It is even more amazing to see how US administration members don't seem to be concerned about their image in the Middle East and Iraq when it comes to democracy as they continue to oppress the free Arab press.
Was it supposed to be like this?
I doubt it.