Reporters on the Job

Safer Inside Than Out: The Monitor team in Baghdad got a brief taste of the intolerance in one of the city's Islamist mosques while reporting today's story about the rise of Sunni fundamentalism in Iraq (page 1). Inside one mosque, staff writer Dan Murphy was received warmly by a preacher who wanted to explain why his opposition to the US presence in Iraq is so strong. Dan was courteously given a tour of the mosque and a chance to look at a large Koran filled with elegant calligraphy that was given to Iraq in the I960s by Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

But outside, the Monitor's driver was having quite a difference experience. The the mosque's guards were telling him it was wrong to work with "foreign" infidels, implying that it could be dangerous for his health.

"I've decided that if we go back there, I'm going to take a cab," says Dan.

Lost in Translation? Hopefully not.

For staff writer Abraham McLaughlin to talk to the villagers of Meurmeouel, Chad, about their new oil money (page 7) required tracking down two interpreters: One who speaks the local village language as well as French - the dominant language in Chad - and another who speaks French and English.

"That done, the three of us piled into a 4x4 and headed out to the village," says Abe. "The trouble was, the English speaker's English wasn't very good. Neither is my French. So we spent the hour-long drive translating my questions for villagers into French, so he could then feed them to the other translator, who could pose them to villagers. After the visit we spent the return car-ride translating their answers into English."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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