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Reporters on the Job

May 20, 2003



NOT A SCOTTISH LINGUIST: While reporting today's story about British and American peacekeeping operations in Iraq (page 1), The Monitor's Danna Harman had to get past initial impressions. "The American treatment of reporters was very informal, very embracing. The British were much more formal and less responsive to my inquiries. I had to get beyond the way each side behaved toward me and focus on trying to evaluate the job they were doing with Iraqis. Once the initial access hurdles were over, I felt the British got the balance right between force and friendship with the Iraqis," she says.

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But Danna did have some communication problems. "I went out on patrol with the Black Watch, a Scottish regiment. Normally, they bring two Iraqi policemen to interpret. But I took one of their spots in the Humvee and another journalist took the other." Danna speaks English and Arabic and was able to act as interpreter for the troops - sometimes. "I could understand the Iraqis but I had trouble with the broad Scottish accent. I only caught about half of what they said," she says.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Follow-up on a Monitor Story

TO BE MUSLIM IN EUROPE: A Lebanese refugee who ran for parliament demanding more rights for Muslims and other immigrants in Belgium (as reported May 16, " 'Belgian Malcom X' seeks office,") failed to win a seat in the national legislature, The Associated Press reports. Nevertheless, Dyab Abou Jahjah says the result bodes well for him in municipal elections in three years. He won only 2.18 percent of the vote in his Antwerp district, well short of the minimum 5 percent needed to get a seat in parliament.

Antwerp is widely seen as a symbol of the rise of the extreme right in Europe since the anti-immigrant Flemish bloc rose to prominence there. On Sunday, the Flemish bloc won some 30 percent of the popular vote in Antwerp, only slightly down from municipal elections in 2000.

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