• Conservatives on Campus : Staff writer Ben Arnoldy left Afghanistan for Pakistan just days before violent protests erupted over allegations that US interrogators at Guantánamo Bay had desecrated the Koran. Media reports say that university students played a lead role in the protests, and that one group had burned an American flag (this page).
"I had visited the university to gauge student opinion about a Western-style television station and got an earful of highly conservative Islamic views from the 20-somethings," says Ben. A colleague told Ben that other reporters had noticed, too, that the student population at Kabul University had grown more conservative. "He suspects that it it might have to do with who controls university admissions. I noticed that the less-educated youth working in Kabul seemed more pro-Western in outlook."
• Cairo Opens Up : Last week, the Egyptian government's press office invited Dan Murphy to a press conference with President Hosni Mubarak's son, Gamal. Later the same day, a smaller group of reporters met with the prime minister. "The government is usually very difficult to get information from. It apparently felt it wasn't getting a fair shake in the press over its democratic reform efforts,'' says Dan. Gamal, a former banker, gave a White House-style press conference - including instructions that "no follow up" questions were allowed." Prime Minister Ahmed Nazief was folksier, and had more give and take with the reporters. One colleague, who's been in Cairo for almost a decade, was asked when he could remember a day with so much access. He answered: "Um, never."
David Clark Scott