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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Baghdad blogger 'amazed' by success
Screengrab of Dear Raed weblog, BBC
Salam Pax's online diary was read by thousands
A Baghdad man whose online diary during the recent Iraqi conflict made global headlines says he is amazed by the attention it received.

"Salam Pax" - his real name has never been revealed - spent months writing an often bleakly humorous weblog which detailed the fears and hardships of Iraqi citizens as they prepared for the inevitable conflict.

But it was not until after the war when, after a break, he logged on to the site again that he became aware of the vast amounts of publicity - and resulting traffic - he had been receiving.

"Right before the war when, for example the Guardian [newspaper] had all these pieces and other magazines and newspapers had articles, I had no idea what was going on," he told the BBC's Today programme.

"After the war I log on to the site and see that an amazing number of people have read the website."

The entries have now been compiled into a book which his publishers hope will provide an alternative voice from the Iraqi war.

Considerable danger

The diary began as a way for Salam Pax, a 29-year-old architectural student, to keep in touch with his friend Raed in Jordan.

We wouldn't have had regime change without foreign intervention... but did I want the invasion? I wanted someone to help, sure, but I think now it's a bit more difficult
Salam Pax
"It was just simple things about what was happening in Baghdad so he could stay in touch with what was happening," he said.

"And then it just kept on going, more people were reading it and you get e-mails from people saying 'so what's going on in Baghdad?' and I started writing these things on the weblog instead of answering their e-mails."

Salam Pax's site was all the more fascinating because he was in considerable danger while writing it, not just from the looming prospect of war but from those within Saddam Hussein's regime.

"I did sometimes think twice about writing certain things: mentioning names, or districts, especially before the war," he said.

"The week before and the first week of the war they were actively looking for people who were communicating with 'the West'."

Coping with fame

Salam Pax says he has mixed feelings about the recent conflict, calling it "a deal with the devil".

"We wouldn't have had regime change without foreign intervention," he said.

"It had to happen this way, from inside there was no hope... everyone really glad this is over... [and that] Saddam is gone.

"[But] did I want the invasion? I wanted someone to help, sure, but I think now it's a bit more difficult."

And although Salam Pax admits to rather enjoying the fame that his diary has given him, he said that he hopes to use it in a positive way.

"It doesn't feel very real, I don't really know how much fame I can cope with," he acknowledged.

"But I've been trying to get more Iraqi voices on the web. I've been talking to lots of people at home and showing them where they can write... the power of the media can be useful."


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