For decades, every legally published newspaper in Iraq devoted their front pages to a single subject–the glorification of Saddam Hussein. In post-invasion Iraq, the front-page article of the first newspaper to be distributed in Baghdad speaks out against Iraq’s new rulers. The leading article reads:
“Our people’s joy at the fall of the tyrant and his rule did not mean in any way that they are happy with the invasion and occupation. From the beginning, the people expressed their condemnation of the war, the tragedies which it left behind, and the new calamities which they have suffered, especially as it ended… The suffering of millions of our people has been aggravated as a result of the loss of even meager essentials of living such as clean water, electricity, medicine and food. No attention has been paid to ensure that these essentials are provided for the people, in clear violation of the obligations under international treaties.”
The paper, called Tarieq Al-Shaab, or the Way of the People, is published by Iraq’s long-banned communist party.
The paper provides a source of news for a population starved of information. Around 60,000 copies were distributed in Baghdad over the weekend.
When the paper was banned by Saddam Hussein in 1979, Communist Party members kept running it as a monthly, printing it in northern Iraq and sneaking it into Baghdad. Members knew that every publication or movement of the paper could be a death sentence.
Now, thousands of copies are being distributed for free in the capital and major cities throughout Iraq.
- Mufid Jazairi, editor of Tarieq Al-Shaab, the Iraqi Communist Party newspaper.