Reporters on the Job

China Daily/Reuters
Children are among the tourists that visited China's main space launch site in Gansu Province. China's Shenzhou-7 manned rocket ship is scheduled to blast off on Thursday.

Iraqi Hospitality: Staff writer Tom A. Peter interviewed one of the main leaders of Iraq's community policing program, called the Sons of Iraq (SOI), at his home in Anbar Province (see story). As it's currently Ramadan, an Islamic holiday that requires Muslims to fast every day from sunrise to sunset for a month, no one was eating. But there's also a strong tradition of hospitality in Iraq and the SOI leader didn't want Tom to feel unwelcome in his home.

"He had a large fish pond in his back yard, so he had some of the guys in his entourage go catch a fish and prepare a full meal, complete with appetizers and dessert, just for me and one of the members of the Monitor's security staff who was also not fasting," says Tom. "It was quite an elaborate meal, especially considering that the hosts couldn't eat it."

"As if that wasn't enough, he wanted to make sure that the Muslim members of the Monitor's security staff didn't miss out on account of their fasting," says Tom. "So as we were leaving, one of his assistants came trotting over with two grocery bags, each filled with a massive fish fresh from his pond. It was one of the most elaborate shows of hospitality I've seen in the Middle East."

On the Iftar A-List: Correspondent Yigal Schleifer started reporting today's story about the rise of lavish iftar dinners when he noticed how many of his friends and public officials in Turkey were juggling iftar invitations. Then, he found himself on the iftar dinner circuit, too. "The American consul in Istanbul invited me. So I found myself canceling my plans in order to attend an iftar at her home," he says.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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