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Rivers of Babylon

The Al-Iraqiya channel is impressively even-handed, especially compared to other Arab media. Plus why 2008 is likely to be the year in which Iraq achieves real stability

By Nibras Kazimi   January 2008

Revolutionary television

In November, Patriarch Mar Emmanuel III Delly, the Baghdad-based head of the Chaldean church, was ordained into the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict in the Vatican. The event was broadcast live on Iraq’s national television station, Al-Iraqiya, for over an hour, under the rubric “the symbols of Iraq.”

It was heartening to find Iraq’s state media highlighting the ceremony and describing the patriarch as a national “symbol.” The channel even skipped the Muslim midday call to prayer to keep showing the proceedings, which were translated from Latin into Arabic by the presenter. An Iraqi government delegation…

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