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baqqa mqarqra
A Frog's-eye view

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Friday, March 21, 2003

No, this time I don't mean news of what's happening in Iraq, but rather, the news as presented by Iraq. The Palestine National Authority's pro-Iraqi Bethlehem Television station continues to broadcast pro-Iraqi propaganda, which I can pick up with a simple antenna on my TV. Today, in addition to relaying information from Al-Jazeera, BTV presented us with the news from Iraqi TV.

A large proportion of the broadcast was taken up with showing a destroyed building, with a copy of the Qur'an amongst the rubble. I didn't catch exactly which sura (chapter) it was supposedly open to, but this provided the basis of discussion for several religious commentators to expound upon the Qur'an's prediction of the certain downfall of the invading infidels. (It should be noted that secular Iraqi Ba'ath "socialist" ideology is more than capable of exploiting Muslim religious feelings when it suits the regime.)

They interviewed a woman who claimed to have been injured in the bombing, though the close-up shots didn't really allow the viewer to determine if the whole thing was staged.

But the highlight of the broadcast was the focus upon world opinion, in particular the anti-war protests in the Muslim world and in the West, including the USA. One particularly bizzarre moment was when they showed what appeared to be human shields - the looked Scandinavian, South-East Asian and perhaps Indian - standing outside some kind of factory or military installation while a man who spoke Gulf Arabic, presumably an Iraqi, ranted about the wickedness of the allies' attack. The foolish looking internationals stood uneasily in the background, and looked like they had absolutely no idea what was going on or what they were doing there. I assume that these recordings were made in advance, and that the internationalists had been told that they were going to be defending Iraqi civilians; in fact, their presence was clearly for propaganda purposes only.

Immediately after the "news" broadcast ended, the TV station broadcast a choir singing the praises of Saddam Hussein (images of Saddam on a horse, glorious statues of Saddam, paintings of Saddam, huge rallies in favour of Saddam, enormous military parades in which soldier goose-stepped in honour of Saddam).

It's a pity that the so-called "peace protestors" around the world can't see these broadcasts and that most of them - certainly the Westerners - wouldn't be able to understand the Arabic. If they were to see them, they would probably be rather shocked by the totalitarian imagery employed in these films, reminiscent of the worst and most brutal regimes the past hundred years have known. At the very least they should know that they are being exploited by the oppressive Iraqi regime and that their rhetoric is boosting the murderous Iraqi regime.

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