Iraq Press Roundup

By HIBA DAWOOD, UPI Correspondent  |  Dec. 24, 2007 at 10:24 AM
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Al Mashriq newspaper said in an editorial Monday that the number of heroin addicts in Baghdad had increased to 7,000 from 4,000 in 2004.

The editorial, titled "We have democracy and heroin," said Iraqi society had to have an "Islamic color" that would make the signs of sins disappear.

"Bars and clubs (should be) closed, alcohol forbidden, and even chewing gum not allowed for men to use because it signals femininity, which is a sin," the paper said.

The paper said Iraq had to be empty of "plagues" that demolish societies; it said these plagues -- such as pornography, or male and female students sitting next to each other under trees, which it called "devilish" -- started since the "wind of change" entered Iraq.

"We have to work on getting rid of all kinds of devils, including the one that inspires people to write poetry that might lead to the failure of political and democratic processes," it said.

It said despite all efforts from the government, no one had succeeded in preventing the disease of drugs from infiltration Iraq, which it called the purest place in the world.

It cited news reports as saying tons of drugs were found in Iraq after being smuggled in from neighboring countries to be used by teenagers. It said "drugs were sold in public areas shortly after the U.S.-led invasion ... when Iraqis woke up one morning and they had no government, no state, no law, no police and no army."

It said that with Jay Garner and Paul Bremer came the drugs trade and an increase in the number of addicts.

"We have heroin, hashish and democracy," it said.

The paper also carried a discussion between two voices discussing the security situation in Baghdad.

The conversation, titled "Dreams and nightmares," began with the writer's voice commenting sarcastically that Baghdad today was better than the years following the invasion, which was accompanied by looting, kidnapping, sectarian killings and displacement.

"Do you agree with me on that?" the writer asked an unnamed Iraqi political expert.

The political expert said Baghdad is still the most dangerous place on Earth, and the terrorists are present but unseen and that many areas in Baghdad are under their control, in addition to hijackers, smugglers and thieves who have been training through the five years after the invasion.

The political expert said Baghdad will remain the most dangerous place on Earth as long as explosions hit Baghdad on a daily basis and dead bodies are found.

"To measure the security situation by the massacres that took place is a failure because a decrease in violence can't ensure people's safety," the paper said.

The editorial said that before the "surge," shop owners closed their shops early, whereas now they close around 9 p.m.

"Should this be considered as a source of optimism?" the editorial asked.

"Although people get killed for going to the movies or selling and drinking alcohol, people are free to practice what they desire as there is no law against enjoying social life," the editorial said in a critical tone.

The political expert said: "It is like somebody comes to your house, steals everything you have, and offers you to stay in his place so you don't suffer."

The editorial said it is this "improvement" that makes Iraqi civilians question the fact that security has improved.

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