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[casi-analysis] rewriting history

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Should we bother worrying about biased reporting of this nature?

I emailed the BBC with this:

I am very concerned by the consistent bias shown by your reporters
when covering Iraq.

"Thousands of Iraqis fled the country or were forced to leave during
Saddam Hussein's regime. "

This phrase perpetuates the myth that SH caused Iraqi academics and
others to leave. The truth is that our wars of agression and our
sanctions caused the vast majority of Iraqi emigrants.

The article gives the impression that the Iraqi government (notice
the biased use of regime - used throughout by the BBC) caused the
backwardness in the use of ICT by Iraqi academics and Universities.
The real reason is our ruthless sanctions which even deprived doctors
of medical textbooks.

article follows:

Web lifeline for Iraqi academics

Iraqi academics are using the power of the web to help them rebuild
vital links with their fellow colleagues and students.

Many Iraqi academics wish to return to their country
Thousands of Iraqis fled the country or were forced to leave during
Saddam Hussein's regime.

Many of them were professors and intellectuals who were cut off from
the rest of the academic world for more than a decade.

Iraqi scientist Dr Abduljabbar al-Wahedi has set up a website to help
academics like himself establish links with colleges, universities,
and students in Iraq, in a attempt to reinvigorate further education

It is also appealing to Iraq's intellectuals to return home to start
teaching once more.

"Now, with the era of technology, we can communicate with each other
and it is easy to communicate," said Dr al-Wahedi.

I send an e-mail, they respond to it the next day, and that's how it
goes," he told BBC World Service programme Go Digital.

Permission to type

"Previously, the regime forbid all Iraqis even to have a type writer
in their home," explained Dr al-Wahedi.

"That was not allowed unless you got permission from security. For
this reason, using e-mail or the internet is something new for them."

As well as linking up Iraq's academics now living in countries as far
a field as New Zealand and Brazil, the members are also helping
students studying in Iraq.

 Safety is still a major obstacle, but it is not as the media
imagines it

Dr Abduljabbar al-Wahedi
"Sometimes we receive an e-mail from Iraqi students asking for

"What we say to them is to look at the website for Iraqi academics
all over the world with the same major and contact them directly.
They are more than happy to help them and to help Iraqi education"

Even if the academics do not want to uproot themselves once more and
move permanently back to Iraq, they are encouraged through the
website to return temporarily to lecture.

But, said Dr al-Wahedi, some have gone back to assess what life is
like in Iraq and have decided to stay, even though they had no
intention of moving back.

"I have one member who got an invitation from a university. He went
to visit and a month later he sent me an e-mail saying he was going
back to Iraq permanently."

Building sites

Persuading people to return to a country where infrastructure was
decimated before, as well as during war, is a difficult task.

Even though there are few incentives to return, including lack of
money, deteriorated facilities as well as danger, many are not
deterred, said Dr al-Wahedi.

"Safety is still a major obstacle, but it is not as the media
imagines it," he said.

"There are difficult situations here and there, but Iraqis have a big
interest in helping their country."

Although there are many universities still without e-mail, Dr al-
Wahedi said he hoped by the end of the year his organisation will
have helped every university build their own site, so they too can
connect to the academic community once more.

Mark Parkinson

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