Reporters on the Job

• WITNESS CREDIBILITY: Reporter Dan Murphy says the key issue at stake in the dispute between UN investigators and Indonesia over the murder of former Monitor contributor Sander Thoenes is the credibility of an eyewitness to the murder, Domingus Amaral. Indonesian investigators say the illiterate Amaral isn't a credible witness (page 7). Dan found the street vendor at home in a half-destroyed Dili building. He was not only clear and specific about what he saw, but aware of what was at stake. "We only spoke for a few minutes, because he wanted to keep his comments to me as straightforward and simple as possible. He said he wanted to save most of what he has to say for the judge."

• SABBATH DAY INTERVIEWS: Trying to do interviews with Jewish sources on the Mediterranean island of Djerba on the Sabbath turned out to be more difficult than expected, says Philip Smucker.

It took 10 minutes of pleading with Tunisian security officials to get in to see the rabbi of the 2,600-year-old Ghriba Synagogue, which was bombed earlier this month (page 1). "He reluctantly agreed to talk – even as a dozen security officials stalked us across the grounds."

At another synagogue, Phil slipped in and had a pleasant conversation with a young man before being ushered out by the institution's elders, "who reminded me that it was forbidden in the scriptures to give interviews on the Sabbath."

Phil didn't fare much better when he tried to take photos. "I tried to snap some photos of children playing. About 20 minutes into my efforts, two plain-clothed security officials arrived on dirt bikes and interrupted my efforts, insisting it was forbidden to photograph in the Jewish quarter. There hadn't been any signs to suggest that. Nearly 100 Jewish residents gathered around us as we spoke, but I didn't dare raise my camera. The officials held me for 30 minutes."

Cultural snapshot

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