Reporters on the Job

Speaking Out: Last week, correspondent Annia Ciezadlo attended a press conference dealing with abuse of prisoners in US detention in Iraq (page 1). As she waited for the briefing to begin, she struck up a conversation with a woman who turned out to be an Iraqi with US citizenship. In fact, the woman, Jeanan Moayad, had decided to attend at the urging of a cousin in California.

Annia says she was impressed at how willing Jeanan was to talk. "Some people at the press conference were afraid to talk to the press, especially about matters like this. Those who have relatives in prison are also worried about retribution. But Jeanan expressed great faith in the role of the press and its ability to bring things to light - something I found very encouraging."

The Gentle Approach: When the Monitor's Scott Baldauf met with B.P. Singhal, the BJP politician (page 7), he had heard of his reputation as a hard-liner.

"But I had a hard time reconciling that with the very gentle, articulate elderly man who greeted me at his office last week," says Scott. "The only time he became emotional was when we discussed the temple/mosque dispute in Ayodhya, and even then he was trying to persuade me of his point of view, rather than shouting it out. It reminded me of the discussions I've had with members of the pro-Taliban Jamaat-i Islami in Pakistan, when they describe why they think the West is attacking Islam and why Muslims are 'fighting back.' "

One might not agree with them, Scott says, but the interesting thing is that both the Hindu right and the Islamic right - both labeled as religious extremists - attempt to persuade people whom they regard as opponents. "These guys consider themselves to be so persuasive that all you have to do is hear it correctly and you will agree with them. They discuss, rather than shout down at you. You expect extremists to be extreme in their approach."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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