• INTO SADDAM CITY: Foreign reporters are rarely permitted to work in the poor and teeming Shiite Muslim area of Baghdad called Saddam City, scene of antigovernment riots in 1999. So the Monitor's Scott Peterson was keen to travel with the United Nations to the area, when they launched a nationwide polio-eradication campaign (page 7). "It is a different world from the rest of Baghdad, which is opulent in many places," Scott says. Residents looked on with surprise as UNICEF officials and a gaggle of journalists followed a vaccination team on foot, marking each family's door with a chalk symbol after the work was done.
• CRACKING DOWN IN THAILAND: Reporter Simon Montlake was surprised by how little public protest there is over the apparently heavy-handed police crackdown on drug dealers (page 10). "Even after some 500 deaths, there's no sign of any protest. I talked with middle-class Thai friends and folks in cafes and they all say the same thing: 'They're drug dealers ... they deserve to die.' But the shocking thing was that those killed were only suspected drug dealers. Educated Thais, who are quite aware of the rule of law, still consider drug suspects to be fair game."
David Clark Scott
• MUSLIM COUNCIL IN FRANCE: French Muslim leaders reached a long-awaited deal to create a council that would talk to the state on behalf of Europe's largest Muslim community, according to Reuters.
As reported in the Monitor on July 15, 2002, "A search for Islam à la française," France is trying to improve relations with its 6 million Muslims, fearing that militants could exploit tensions created by the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Muslims are France's second-largest religious group after Catholics.