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September 2007





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Turkey: Headscarf Politics

Zimbabwe: New Highs and Lows

Lebanon: Faultlines

The Plight of Iraq's Refugees



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Turkey: Headscarf Politics

headscarves in shop window.

Fashionable headscarf displays adorn many storefront windows in Istanbul.

Editor's Note: The recent election of Islamic president Abdullah Gul has raised concerns about Turkey's secular future. Read what young professionals in Istanbul are saying about faith-based politics.

It's just slightly past 4 a.m. and like clockwork, I am awakened by the cacophony of chanting voices, which reverberate off the towering buildings and echo through the open windows of my hot, sticky apartment in downtown Istanbul. Outside the window, I can see several minarets dotting the Istanbul skyline, each with a balcony where the muezzin, or crier, leads this morning's call to prayer.

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Zimbabwe: New Highs and Lows

Trash dump.

Zimbabweans scavenge for food and recyclables at a dump outside Harare.

Editor's Note: There seems no respite in sight for average Zimbabweans as their country descends deeper into economic ruin. With chronic food shortages and hyperinflation causing massive price fluctuations, President Robert Mugabe insists on blaming the West for his country's woes. In the following dispatches, two reporters give accounts of the harsh realities there. We hear about Zimbabweans outside the country who are using the Internet and cell phones to help those remaining inside the southern African nation, and from an American reporter who gets more than she bargained for while visiting friends in the capital, Harare, this past summer.

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Lebanon: Faultlines

Refugees crowded in room.

An estimated 30,000 Palestinians were left homeless following the destruction of their refugee camp during militant fighting.

Editor's Note:Always precarious, Lebanon's peace and its fragile democracy are once again under assault with the latest car bomb assassination of a Christian member of parliament in a Beirut suburb. Lebanon's leaders blamed Syria, which denies involvement. The bombing comes on the eve of a special parliamentary session to choose a new president. "The Security Council condemns this new bombing as an attempt to destabilize Lebanon in this very crucial period," warned France's U.N. ambassador.

The legislature -- deeply divided between a Sunni/Christian majority and a Hezbollah-led opposition -- has from September 25 until November 24 to elect a president. If they fail to agree on a consensus candidate, many in Lebanon fear that two rival governments will emerge, threatening a revival of the civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1990. The government only recently ended a fierce battle with militants who took over a Palestinian refugee camp. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora proclaimed victory, but FRONTLINE/World's Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck reports that the three-month siege exposed Lebanon's continued vulnerability to radical insurgents.

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The Plight of Iraq's Refugees

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Muna, 29, lost her entire family in Iraq and now lives in Jordan.

Editor's Note: When General Petraeus answered to Congress this week about the military surge efforts in Iraq, several Senators brought up the region's growing refugee crisis caused by sectarian chaos that has driven hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from their homes. The United Nations reports that 50,000 Iraqis a month have been displaced since the war began. Neighboring Jordan has taken in an estimated 750,000, with precious few resources to cope. In this dispatch from Jordan (with video), Rudabeh Shahbazi talks to Iraqi families whose lives have been torn apart by the violence and who face an uncertain future.

"I lost my family. I lost my daughter. I lost my husband. I lost my house, my kingdom, my wellbeing, my health and my job," said Muna, a 29-year-old Iraqi woman living alone in Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. "What is left in my life? Why am I still alive?"

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