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NOW's report "The Good War?" documents the reaction of the Arab world to the war in Iraq. At the beginning of the war massive protests against the U.S. action took place in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian towns and cities. The protests were carefully watched, and controlled, by the state security forces. But as correspondent Deborah Amos notes, not all the reaction has been unfavorable. In her report she talks to several influential Egyptian thinkers, profiled below, who believe the toppling of Saddam Hussein could lead to democratic change in other Arab countries including Egypt. Below you will also find places on the Internet where you can explore press and public opinion in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.

Sources and Suggestions

Of course an ability to read and understand Arabic adds greatly to your ability to get news and opinion from the Middle East. However, there are several English-language papers in Cairo and international news services which offer daily round-ups from papers and broadcasts from around the globe.

The BBC has a helpful introduction to Egyptian media in its Country Profile. The page includes links to major newspapers and magazines (English and Arabic), television networks, and the government press agency.

The World Press Review Online publishes excerpts from media around the globe. In recent weeks they have published online several interesting compendiums of reporting and of opinion pieces. "Now the Hard Part" presents comment and analysis on the topic of the future shape of Iraq.

The Egyptian State Information Service also maintains a Web site which offers 24-hour radio briefings and a daily round-up of Arabic-language press.

Hisham Kassem
Hisham Kassem
Hisham Kassem is the publisher of the English-language newsmagazine the CAIRO TIMES. The magazine is published abroad because of Egyptian press restrictions. Their Web site features a page on the censorship the magazine faces upon importation into Egypt, and samples of articles that have been modified. The April 15 issue of the CAIRO TIMES features a discussion of the ramifications of fall of Saddam Hussein in Egypt entitled "Too Close to Home?"

Kassem is also the President of The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, one of the oldest rights organization in the country. The organization is calling for the release of those arrested by Egyptian police during recent anti-war demonstrations.

Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Last fall, Bill Moyers spoke with Barbara Ibrahim about the imprisonment of her husband American University in Cairo sociology professor and human rights activist, Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim. He was imprisoned by Egyptian authorities for seven years on charges of tarnishing the image of Egypt. The case caused an international sensation, and calls for the U.S. to limit aid to Egypt until Ibrahim was released. Now freed, Ibrahim continues to speak out about human rights in the Middle East, as he did to correspondent Rick Davis last year:
As you grow older maybe you get wiser. But you also get more determined. That there is very little time left for you to carry out your agenda. And the agenda is still very long in this region. The agenda for peace. For democracy. For development. For human rights.
Salama Ahmed Salama
Salama Ahmed Salama
Salama Ahmed Salama is a newspaper columnist for the paper AL AHRAM. Early this year in an article entitled "Schizophrenia" Salama reflected on Arab relations with the United States after 9/11 and as tensions mounted over Iraq. Salama sounded a cautious note:
Although there is a dire need for regime change, the US should not stand in the way of the efforts being exerted by national forces to increase freedom and democracy. Any such changes should come from within and according to the will of the people.

Ali Salem
Ali Salem

Ali Salem is a prolific author, he has written at least 25 plays, 15 books and is a frequent columnist for the Arabic daily paper AL HAYAT, which is based in London. Salem is controversial in his home country, and he's also a best-seller there. In 1992 just after the Olso Accords were signed Salem made the first of six trips to Israel. The recounting of his journey, A DRIVE TO ISRAEL, sold tens of thousands of copies in Egypt and led to widespread criticism of the author. In 2001, the Union of Egyptian Writers expelled Salem because of his writings in favor of "normalization" of relations with Israel.

NEW YORK TIMES columnist Thomas L. Friedman quoted Salem in a recent column of the effect of the Iraq war on the governments of surrounding nations. Salem warned "fellow Arab pen carriers, I say, 'Do not hasten to denounce [the U.S.],'" while also reminding Americans not to tarry too long.

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