Reporters on the Job

Cultural snapshot

• A LESSON IN POLYGAMY: Reporters' own beliefs are often challenged by the people they interview. In today's story about Spanish converts to Islam, American Sara Miller admits that she didn't know much about Islam before she interviewed Kamila Toby (page 7). But, she says, "I just assumed customs like polygamy and women wearing the burqa were sexist, because that's what I had learned my whole life."

Ms. Toby, who is in a polygamous marriage, explained that custom was largely for the protection of children: If, as in her family, one of the mothers died, there would be others left to raise her biological children as their own.

Sara wasn't completely convinced herself, but was impressed by the sincerity of Toby. "I'm not saying I'd be in a polygamous marriage; I wouldn't," she says. "But it worked for her."

• DANCING IN THE STREETS: Reporter Michael Theodoulou has visited Iran nearly a dozen times in the past decade. During his latest trip, the media and government officials were clearly focused on the possibility of war next door in Iraq (this page). But among ordinary people he found less interest and "a sense of resignation."

"There's not a family that wasn't touched by the Iran-Iraq war here. No one likes or trusts Saddam [Hussein]. But the atmosphere generally is relaxed," says Michael. "I was amazed to see some young Iranian boys break dancing in the hills north of Tehran. That's not something I would have seen two or three years ago."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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