Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday morning’s bomb attack on the downtown Baghdad headquarters of the Al-Sabah Al-Jadid newspaper, five days after it published a much criticized cartoon of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. The explosion caused a great deal of damage but no injuries.
The offending cartoon illustrated an article in the newspaper’s 6 February issue, which was about the demonstrations being organized this week to mark the 34th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution and which criticized Mohammed Hidari, an Iraqi mullah who supports the Iranian regime.
Much of the population and many politicians regarded the cartoon as an insult to the Iranian revolution and Iraq’s Shiite population, and demonstrators gathered outside the newspaper to demand an apology.
The newspaper published an apology on 9 February but it failed to defuse the hostility.
“Targeting a newspaper in this manner is unacceptable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “After being alerted by the newspaper’s management the day before the bombing, the authorities should have taken the necessary measures to protect its premises and staff, and to make it clear to the demonstrators that there was nothing illegal about the cartoon.
“The authorities must now investigate this criminal attack so that the perpetrators and the instigators can be arrested and brought to justice. It is crucial that all necessary measures are taken to ensure that journalists are safe.“In the current climate of worsening relations between Shiites and Sunnis, the media must act responsibly and must not exacerbate tension unnecessarily. Nonetheless, this cartoon did not in any way constitute an offence to the Shiite community. Tolerance of different viewpoints is the basis of a democratic system.”
Yesterday, Fars News Agency reported, "Thousands of Iraqi people took to the streets in Baghdad to condemn the publication of a cartoon insulting Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in Iraq’s Al-Sabah Al-Jadid newspaper."
Reporters Without Borders condemned the bombing which is good. But a larger staement needs to be made. We repeatedly tell children in the US "Use your words not your hands" or "Use your words not your fists."
We need to make clear that the bombers don't look heroic.
We need to make clear that they're puny and impotent.
If they don't like an image, a comic an article, this is the 21st century and they can repond online. They can make their comic ridiculing the paper they disagree with, they can write a caustic rebuttal.
Either and much more are acceptable responses.
A bomb because you didn't like a cartoon is not an acceptable response.
And all it does is make no one care what offended you.
People stop trying to understand you when you do something like that.
This point needs to be made clear so that others who are enraged by a cartoon or an article know that they're not going to be applauded if they respond by bombing. Or killing.
"Letters to the editor." It's a feature many outlets have. That's an acceptable way to make your voice heard.
The protests that FARS noted yesterday? That's an acceptable way to make your voice heard.
Responding online in your own voice and style is acceptable.
But when you bomb a newspaper? That's unacceptable and no one needs to try to understand you at that point. When freedom of expression means so little to you that you will bomb someone whose message you disagree with, the message you send the world is: I will kill anyone who disagrees with me.
That's not a message that will to support.
The bombing is wrong, resorting to violence because you did not like a media message is wrong.
On violence, through yesterday, Iraq Body Count notes 290 violent deaths so far this month.
National Iraqi News Agency reports an attack on a Jurf al-Sakar checkpoint which left eight federal police injured, two people were injured in a Jamjamal shooting, 1 person was shot dead in Baladiat, a Baquba roadside bombing left two people injured, a Hawija confrontation left 1 Sahwa dead, an Eina Village battle left 15 Iraqi soldiers dead, Joint Special Operations Command declared they had killed 17 suspects in Ein-Aljahsh Village, Joint Special Operations Command announced they had killed 7 suspects to the northwest of Ramadi, a Mishada roadside bombing left 1 person dead and another injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left 1 woman and 1 child dead and a second woman injured, shellings left 5 people dead and thirty-one injured in Falluja, a mortar attack on Falluja Educational Hospital left one doctor injured, an al-Meshaheda roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police member and left two more injured, a Tarmiyah battle left 1 Sahwa dead and two more injured, a Kirkuk roadside bombing left one woman injured, 1 Turkmen was shot dead in Mosul and 1 corpse was discovered in Sadr City.
Another dumped corpse. As Loveday Morris (Washington Post) pointed out earlier this week, "Scores of bodies have been dumped in Iraq’s canals and palm groves in recent months, reminding terrified residents of the worst days of the country’s sectarian conflict and fueling fears that the stage is being set for another civil war."
The assault on Anbar Province continues. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq issued the following today:
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 11 February 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Over the last six weeks up to 300,000 Iraqis – some 50,000 families – have been displaced due to insecurity around Fallujah and Ramadi in central Iraq's Anbar Province. With the conflict in Anbar continuing, UN agencies continue to receive reports of civilian casualties and sustained hardship in communities impacted by the fighting and the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Iraq's Ministry of Displacement and Migration estimates that the government will initially need $35 million to address humanitarian needs caused by the Anbar crisis, including to provide food, bedding and other needs. Late last month the government's high level emergency coordination committee allocated $18 million to the Ministry of Displacement and Migration and a further $9 million to Anbar Province authorities to help the displaced persons.
UNHCR field staff report that displaced Iraqis are residing in schools, mosques and other public buildings and urgently need various humanitarian items. Pregnant women and children need medical care while all families are in need of drinking water, milk and other food aid, diapers, beds and cooking items.
Most of the displaced have fled to outlying communities in Anbar Province to escape the fighting while 60,000 persons have fled to more distant provinces. Thousands are now displaced to Salah Al-Din; authorities in Erbil report some 24,000 persons there, while some 6,000 persons are registered in Dohuk and Suleymaniyeh and others are in Tikrit, Babylon and Kerbala.
Along Iraq's distant frontier with Syria, there are now some 7,000 displaced Iraqis in Al Qaim, a border city where families need significant support. Al Qaim hosts some 5,000 Syrian refugees and supplies are becoming increasingly scarce.
As in other parts of the country, the IDPs in Al Qaim are mainly living in hotels and guest houses, although some are staying in the abandoned staff residences at an old phosphate factory. A UNHCR team that flew in from Baghdad found others living in an unheated school, where they stay in classrooms and cook in an improvised kitchen on a stove donated by the host community. We identified several chronic medical cases of diabetes and high-blood pressure as well as at least four pregnant women. Blankets and kitchen sets were provided from the stocks stored at the nearby Al Obeidy Syrian refugee camp
In a relief operation coordinated by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq to support the Iraqi government's response, UNHCR has distributed more than 2,300 kits of core relief items and 175 tents various locations across the country. The International Organisation for Migration has distributed more than 1,600 kits including also mattresses and sleeping kits. ICRC has likewise distributed its core relief item kits to more than 800 needy families as well as water tanks and other supplies. UNICEF has so far distributed more than 1,250 hygiene kits and various water/sanitation supplies and plans to send 36 tons of hygiene kits, water and sanitation supplies into Ramadi, Heet, Haditha, Rawa, Ana and Al Qaim. UNWFP in cooperation with IOM has delivered more than 4,300 food parcels to various districts in Anbar hosting IDPs.
In addition to providing medical care, first aid and transportation, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society is very actively involved in the relief effort and has distributed food parcels and other items to more than 100,000 people. Iraq's parliament has also dispatched relief aid via the Ministry of Displacement. The Ministry of Displacement and Migration itself has dispatched more than 5,300 food rations, 9,000 blankets and more than 600 core relief item kits while more than 200 tents are on their way to Amiriat Al-Fallujah to increase accommodation capacity. National charities like Al-Ataba Al Hussainiyah have distributed cash assistance for all IDP families from Anbar province in Al-Zahra city in Kerbala (100,000 dinars for adults and 50,000 dinars for children) as well as transportation costs between Al Zahra city and Kerbala city and three meals daily. A UNHCR team from Baghdad recently visited Al Zahra city near Kerbala and found more than 1,500 IDPs residing there in a pilgrim camp, where ICRC has provided water tanks and other aid.
Other partners like the International Rescue Committee are active and supporting UNHCR's field work. Save the Children plans to conduct a child protection assessment in Shaklawa and Erbil, in northern Iraq.
Access and roadblocks remain a challenge. A consignment of WHO medical supplies has reportedly been detained at an Iraqi Army checkpoint since 30th January. Many bridges leading into the Anbar region have been destroyed and roads are blocked, complicating deliveries to communities hosting IDPs.
The some 300,000 new IDPs comes atop of Iraq's population of more than 1.1 million displaced persons who have still not returned to communities wracked by violence mainly during the 2006-2008 upheaval.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
- In Amman: Peter Kessler on mobile +962 79 631 7901
- In Baghdad: Natalia Prokopchuk on mobile +964 780 921 7341
The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, Pacifica Evening News, Susan's On the Edge, the Independent, KPFK, The New Statesman, Black Agenda Report and Antiwar.com -- updated last night and today:
national iraqi news agency all iraq news
reporters without borders fars news agency
the washington post
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