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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 15:57 GMT
Iraq log: 2 December 2004
What is life like for ordinary Iraqis and others caught up in events? We are publishing a range of accounts here from people inside Iraq about how they, their families and friends live day to day, and what the bigger events in the headlines mean to them.

You can bookmark this page and come back to read the latest posts each day. Earlier log entries can be found by clicking on the dated links on the right hand side.

SUSPICION AND THREATS
Posted by Shehab Ahmed Basra, 2 December

We feel very lucky here in Basra. It is a lot quieter than other parts of Iraq. The British and Danish troops have become a part of our life. There is a lot of disappointment at the slowness of reconstruction, but life is better here than elsewhere.

We have certain problems that seem to be specific to the south of Iraq. Yesterday there was a development that is typical of the struggle going on here. A leaflet was distributed at the mosques calling on all women to wear the veil in the Iranian style - with a full head covering and a black gown, but the face uncovered. This is not the style here, though most women wear headscarves. We also have Christians living in Basra. Their custom is for the women not to cover up, but many wear headscarves.

The leaflet carried unspecific threats about action being taken against women who didn't wear the veil in the recommended way. Of course these threats are not empty. Islamic groups have organised attacks on people and businesses to try to enforce their will.

As a journalist, I feel the pressure of the Islamic groups too. My colleagues and I have received death threats for reporting on petrol smuggling run by some of the Islamic organisations, and the local officials involved in this. In this sense there are serious restrictions on press freedom here.

There's a lot of talk about the elections next month, but mostly people are very suspicious. I and many people in Basra just don't trust or feel we know most of the candidates that are likely to stand. They don't represent us. The main parties are all opposition parties from Saddam's time who were outside the country. Unless something changes, I'm not going to vote because there is no one who I support.

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MASKED MEN
Posted by Yasmin Baghdad, 2 December

I've been working again in Hor Rajab and Latifiya areas south-west of Baghdad. Wherever we went we heard the sound of missiles going off. I was also supposed to go to Yousifiya too, but had to postpone that trip because we were told that situation there was tense. The military closed off the road to Yousifya as part of the Falluja operations.

In these parts, people talk of little else except what is happening in Falluja, Yousifiya and Latifiya. I just wanted to finish my work and get back to Baghdad. The situation was not helped when some drivers who had attempted earlier in the day to get to Baghdad came back to tell us about how they had to abandon the trip because masked men were seen on the road to the capital. I just had to grin and bear it and wait.

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JONING THE HUNTING CLUB
Posted by Dhia Abdulwahab Baghdad, 2 December

I had always wanted to join the prestigious Hunting Club in Baghdad. It is situated in the upmarket Mansour area of the city and for years was the meeting place for well-to-do Iraqi families. However, Uday, Saddam's eldest son, took over the club during his father's reign. Uday had a bad reputation and his behaviour pushed many members out of the club. People were in particular worried about their daughters whom they felt were not safe with that man around.

That was one reason for me not joining. The other major obstacle was money. Now the situation is different. Membership of the club has been rising since the fall of the regime because those with jobs, me included, have seen their income rise and there is no harassment from officials or senior government figures who happen to members.

I am now a member. I like the club for its swimming pools, tennis courts and many restaurants. I still have to cut short my visits to the club and usually leave for home by 7 pm because Baghdad is still full of surprises after dark and you never know.

INTANGIBLE CONCERNS
Posted by Stuart Ritchie Baghdad, 2 December

I've had an old friend asking me about the safety of the International Zone (or Green Zone) because her husband-to-be was expressing an interest in working here. Safety is not something I let my mind dwell on too much, but today I was forced into it. We have a highly competent safety advisor working with our company, so really he does our thinking for us.

I have now lived and worked in the IZ for almost six months and yes life has changed, the potential threats have changed. Until two months ago, we had a fair amount of freedom to move around the IZ, to eat and drink in the few restaurants that are here, but not anymore. One of our haunts was the Green Zone Cafe, quite a lively place, but now blown to hell by a suicide bomber - and that is the difference.

Before our concern was incoming rockets and mortars, but now that concern has been replaced by something not so tangible. You could hear a rocket and take cover, you could quite often hear a mortar being set off and take cover, but how do you recognise a suicide bomber? You can't.

So freedom of movement is taken away, we are advised, very strongly, to wear metal plate inserts in our flack jackets, not to walk alone outside of the palace, for fear of kidnap. In fact, any time outside of the palace compound or office, there is no relaxation. It's a constant state of alert watching people carrying plastic carrier bags, watching any vehicle that is coming in your direction, just in case.

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These are some of the comments we have received so far on this log.

Some refer to the previous logs:

From BBCArabic.com: Following the fall of the former regime, a number of things have become clear. There is a large section in Iraq that seems to expect rapid change and reconstruction without realising that the former regime's legacy has touched many aspects of life. There is also the issue of the arrival of Iraqi political forces from overseas since the war. These, as well as the attitude of some non-Iraqi Arabs in Iraq who continue to bemoan the fall of the Baathist government because the cheques they used to get have now dried up, are some of the main challenges. Lack of security, the manufactured energy crisis are essentially the product of an attitude prevalent in this country. People rely on someone else to sort out these issues and seem to accept half solutions. This does not apply to all the people of Iraq; of course not. It does apply, however, to a very large segment of society. The Iraqi citizen needs a fresh start, something that the coalition forces are unable and will not be able to provide.
Rasim al-Marwani, Baghdad

From BBCArabic.com: I work as an engineer for the Baghdad city council. Our offices have in the past been targeted. The last attack was from a missile, which missed and hit a nearby street. This attack killed a young boy who happened to be passing. I know that we are targeted daily and I also know that there are those who issue fatwas permitting my murder and the murder of other people who work hard for this city. I know this and more, but like so many others, I will continue to work because we have faith in the people of Iraq. In phone programmes on radio and TV and through other forums here, the Iraqi people always reject and condemn these violent acts. I will continue to work so the Iraq that I and many others have always dreamt of will emerge as a tolerant country for all Iraqis.
Mohammed, Baghdad

From BBCArabic.com: The last time I was in Iraq was two weeks ago. I decided reluctantly to return to Jordan to complete my postgraduate studies. My family were worried about my travelling on the main road from Baghdad to Jordan, not because we were fearful of gangs of thieves who tend to operate there but from the so called resistance. If you happen to be a Shia or from the southern provinces and they catch you, you will be killed.
Jasim al-Badri, Jordan

Baghdad is getting a bit quieter, but still the situation for most people is carnage. I am an Iraqi born in the UK but I still get all the information about what is happening. The stupid jihad fighters are shameful, they think Shia, Sunni and Kurds should fight each other. My mother is Shia but my father is Sunni and I am a quarter Kurdish. This shows that Iraq hasn't always had problems along ethnic lines. But these things take time.
Sami Ibrahim, UK

I'm getting very tired of reading comments from people who seem to want to prove how well informed they are when they clearly aren't in a position to be so. I'd love to see people asking more questions than making rash statements. I want to know what struggles an average family has and what help they need. This forum helps address the lack of balance.
Robert Stevens, Wellington, New Zealand

I can't claim to know or even try to understand what it is like to be a citizen of Iraq or a soldier in Iraq. I wish I could, the truth is most of us go on with our lives maybe reading the news every once in a while but giving little thought as to what is going on in the rest of the world. The fact that people live in completely different realities not only in Iraq but so many places all over the world seems so hard for us to grasp. Thank you to anyone who has voiced their opinion. May God be with all of you and your families.
Chelsey M Peyton, Akron, USA

I would like to ask all the Iraqi medical doctors if they think that the depleted uranium used in US munitions is poisoning all of Iraq and getting into the water supply and air?
John Ling, Aurora ,IL, USA

It's too true that news coverage of Iraq focuses only on explosions and body counts. Are the news media really convinced that if there's no body count no one will read it? Frankly, I feel that kind of coverage makes audiences numb to the real human trauma. The rest of the story is huge and complex, and we can't hope to understand it when we're given the narrow, repetitive treatment of the Iraq situation that 99% of media coverage is dishing out. Thanks, BBC. I'm recommending this page to all my friends and family.
Kirsten, Austin, Texas, USA

I do not get the impression the Iraqi people are thankful for the job that we are doing. Let's just take the insurgents out of the picture for a moment. Our troops could be helping to build schools, roads, hospitals and utilities. I do not see the Iraqi people standing up to the insurgents. The only way US solders will defeat the insurgents is with the help of the people who know where they are in the neighbourhoods. Just like in Vietnam we can't tell who is who without a weapon in their hand. So I ask the Iraqi people to stand up and take control of your neighbourhood and take your country back, so that our troops can come home.
Bob Black, San Diego Ca, USA

Thank you so much to the contributors to this log. Some of us think about Iraq almost continuously and want to be able to visualise and understand the plight of the Iraqi people. We feel responsible.
Kate Shuckburgh, Stroud, Gloucestershire, England

For an Iraqi American who calls his family daily in Iraq, the news is so grim. Every phone call is a good phone call when you hear that no-one has been killed today. Iraq today is the playground of death. The only thing I can tell my countrymen in Iraq is that the coming election is a fraud. Why now - when the place is on fire - do they want this election? The simple answer is the occupation will take another form if it is held now, because when you have death squads roaming the streets you will not have a fair election.
Nameer al-Ani, San Diego, USA

Dear Rama Imad: My prayers are with you and your country as well during this difficult time. I follow the unrest in your country every day as I pray for a safe return to a peaceful Iraq one day. Allah keep you safe.
David Harjadene, Los Angeles, California, US

I have been informing my students about blogs that do this kind of work and impressing on them how important it is to supplement other news sources with this kind of reading - and how important it is, too, to learn how to read this kind of reporting. Thank you. You are setting a new standard for a free press in a new era.
James Crosswhite, Eugene, Oregon, USA

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