FLAG FACTOR: Judging the depth of political emotions in Iran is never easy, but Monitor correspondent Scott Peterson says that a "flag-burning standard" is as good a measure as any. "Iranian rallies come in all shapes and sizes and often," says Scott, who estimates that, in the past six years, he has seen at least 100 versions of Old Glory go up in smoke. "You can tell when people are sincerely gleeful about burning American flags as opposed to just going through the motions, as they were yesterday (this page)."
Scott remembers particular Iranian zeal in marking the 20th anniversary of the US Embassy seizure. "Half a dozen flags were hung from scaffolding, and sent up simultaneously with a big, tree-singeing swoosh," Scott says.
But the most emotional banner incident for Scott himself? It was while he was in Tehran, covering Iran's victory over the US during the World Cup soccer competition, in 1998. He was photographing a raucous celebration crowd when some hard-liners hauled out an American flag just a few feet away, and lit a cigarette lighter.
"The crowd tore that flag away from them, to keep it from burning, and ripped up their 'Down with the USA' pamphlets," Scott says. "That's when I realized how sympathetic Iranians can be to Americans."
ON CAMERA: During the Turkish elections, Ilene Prusher, the Monitor's correspondent in Istanbul, was asked to come to NTV/MSNBC, one of the most-watched television broadcasters in Turkey, to be interviewed on how the world and particularly the US would view the election of the AK Party (story, page 1). "It was fun and an honor to be asked," Ilene says, "but I think I prefer writing quietly at my desk in a pair of jeans to sitting in a suit under hot lights in a television studio."
David Clark Scott