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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Perspective Cuts

In recent news events Wikipedia is considering introducing a form of prior restraint on edits. The online encyclopaedia assembled from reader contributions and edited and maintained by those who care to get involved, have been coping with the fallout from a widely-publicised failure of their quality control mechanism.

A demonstrator wears a similar T-shirt at a New York protest in JulyPeople were also scrutinising what they read in an American airport recently, when a traveller of Iraqi descent said he was told by security officials a number of passengers had complained about his T-shirt - apparently concerned at what the Arabic phrase meant - and asked him to remove it.

The black cotton T-shirt bore the slogan "We will not be silent" in both Arabic and English - adopted by opponents of the war in Iraq and other conflicts in the Middle East.

Continuing on that theme, news reports also investigate the western exodus of several young Muslims east, some to become suicide bombers. With fears that Europe has become a hunting ground for al-Qaeda recruits, it seems that in reality, the issue is US foreign policy.

Peter Taylor, in his new BBC series Al Qaeda: Time To Talk? talks to a woman in Paris whose life was turned upside-down when her boyfriend went to fight in Iraq.

The fact that he was a North African Muslim and Barbara was a white French teenager, half Christian and half Jewish, had not been an issue for either of them, until he began to attend a mosque where a charismatic 22-year-old self-proclaimed imam exercised a powerful influence over many of the local young Muslims.

The tragedy of these two lovers have been replicated across Britain, Europe and the Middle East.

News reports also focus on another dissident of US foreign policy, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has pledged to stand by Syria in opposition to what he said was US "imperialist aggression" in the region.

Meanwhile in the USA, as US broadcaster CNN apologises for a live TV gaffe during a speech by President George W Bush, the bylines focus on the re-telling of human drama in varying forms.

Five years after the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, and two years after the 9/11 Report detailing it became a surprise bestseller, the events of 11 September 2001 are being put before the public again - this time as a comic book, while the arrest of US religious leader Warren Jeffs over alleged sex offences has brought his reclusive polygamous sect back into the public eye.

The isolated sect now dominates the towns of Colorado City, in Arizona, and Hildale, in Utah, less than a mile away. A compound in Eldorado, Texas, is also home to a growing community.

Members believe a man must marry at least three wives in order to ascend to heaven.

Mr Jeffs - who became leader, or prophet, four years ago on the death of his 98-year-old father, Rulon - is reputed to have between 40 and 70 wives and nearly 60 children.

Picture courtesy of BBC News.

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