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Reporters on the Job

Cultural snapshot

A MAN'S WORLD: After interviewing the women working on a television documentary in Afghanistan (page 1), The Monitor's Ilene Prusher wanted to get a government official's view of their efforts.

"I wanted to speak to Engineer Mohammed Ishaq, who is the director of Afghanistan Radio and Television. Mr. Ishaq is known to hold very conservative views, and argued against broadcasting any footage of women singing or dancing on Afghan television," says Ilene.

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When Ilene and her interpreter arrived at his office, she asked to talk to Mr. Ishaq. "We were met by his gracious deputy instead, who told us that Mr. Ishaq says, 'We are against women playing negative roles.' He also said that his boss wouldn't come out to meet us because he does not like meeting foreign women."

IN THE RIGHT PLACE: Sometimes showing up is half the battle. While working on today's story about how Egypt is responding to popular Muslim preachers (this page), reporter Gretel Kovach went to hear one preacher speaking at a local cultural center in an older section of Cairo, known as Islamic Cairo. "I prayed with everyone for about 20 minutes, and then sat through the Koranic recitation, hoping to catch the sheikh afterward," says Gretel. But after an hour, the preacher was hustled off, replaced by a singer. "It turned into a Ramadan party."

Disappointed at not meeting the preacher, she started asking some of those in attendance if they'd heard of Amr Khaled, another popular preacher. "I asked a young woman if she'd ever heard Amr Khaled preach. She said no, and started to walk away. At the last second, I asked her if she'd heard him on tape. She had, and told me that he'd had a huge influence on her life. She's swapped her spandex workout clothes for conservative Islamic dress. She was a perfect example for the story," says Gretel.

David Clark Scott
World editor


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