The Difference Between Terrorists and Wedding Guests
On May 23, Associated Press reporter Faramarzi followed on his original scoop with a report that AP Television News had obtained a video said to depict the wedding taken hours before the attack. The story was widely republished both in U.S. news sites such as The Post and overseas sites, such as Aljazeera.net, the Web site of the Arab cable news network.
But the difference between The Post's coverage and that of the BBC was indicative of the larger difference between U.S. and international coverage.
The Post ran an eight-paragraph version of the AP story. The BBC ran a story on the video, posted excerpts from the purported wedding video and 11 images taken from the footage. The BBC's correspondent Olga Guerin said, although it can't be certain when or where the video was taken, "[it] will not make easy watching for the U.S. military."
The difference in coverage is even greater when considering the commentary on the incident. The most pointed U.S. analysis came from Liz Sly, Iraq correspondent for the Chicago Tribune (registration required). She wrote in a widely reprinted piece that the incident had damaged "America's already battered credibility in the eyes of many Iraqis."
Foreign criticism has been much more common, with many pundits using the incident to discredit both U.S. policy in Iraq and around the world.
Many news sites in the Middle East linked the attack on the wedding party to Israeli attacks on the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in which many civilians were also killed. Columnist Fahd Fanik, writing in Al Rai (in Arabic) , the biggest circulation newspaper in Jordan, wrote, "In one day, Israeli helicopters dropped their bombs on a peaceful rally in Rafah and killed dozens of Palestinians, while U.S helicopters dropped their bombs in Al-Qa'im on an Iraqi wedding party, which included festive firing of guns."
"We are witnessing mass murders in Palestine and massacres in Iraq, a malicious occupation in Palestine and a mad occupation in Iraq," he concluded, according to a translation done by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS).
In the state-controlled Syrian daily, Tishrin, columnist Nadya Khost said the attacks on a peaceful demonstration in Rafah in the Gaza Strip and on the wedding ceremony in Iraq, "killed not only the sons of two valiant Arab peoples, but also the US Administration's right to impose its reform model on the Arabs."
A commentary in the state-controlled China Daily said the United States, "the planet's self-appointed preacher of human rights," has "thrown more dirt on its own face." The editorial that was republished in two of China's most popular Web sites, People's Daily and Xinhua.net .
And journalists in Iraq have not forgotten either. According to FBIS, Ahmed Kubaysi, editor of the independent Baghdad daily Al-Sa'ah, likened the attack on the wedding party to Israeli attacks in Rafah and the occupation of Afghanistan. Iraq, he concluded, will live in darkness until the "ugly soldiers" depart.
© 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive
Bush's Plan Unlikely to Relieve U.S. Troops (washingtonpost.com, May 27, 2004)
In Chalabi's Fall, Iran Sees a New U.S. Policy (The Washington Post, May 24, 2004)
Blair Under Siege (washingtonpost.com, May 20, 2004)
India's Divisions Block Gandhi's Bid for Power (washingtonpost.com, May 18, 2004)
Mideast Media Gripped by Another Horrible Image (washingtonpost.com, May 14, 2004)
World Opinion Archive