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Iraq

Italian Archeologists Want To Help Put Iraq Back On Map For Culture Tourism

Iraq, tourist destination? The central city of Najaf will be declared cultural capital of the Islamic world in 2012, which is expected to help jump-start tourism in Iraq nearly a decade after the beginning of the American-led war to oust Saddam Hussein.

In Ur, locals hope troops will soon be replaced by tourists
In Ur, locals hope troops will soon be replaced by tourists

*NEWSBITES

Looking for some cultural travel next year? You may want to consider...Iraq. Italy has been at the forefront of protecting and restoring Iraq's cultural riches as part of the country's post-war reconstruction.

So while resources are pouring into restaurants, hotels and public infrastructure in Najaf, the Italian coordinator of Task Force Iraq, Massimo Bellelli, the scientific director of the Virtual Museum of Iraq, Massimo Cultraro, and Iraq's ambassador to Italy, Saywan Barzani, have launched a new project -- dubbed Abraham's Hills -- to train new antiquity restorers, tour guides, and museum clerks in the area of the ancient biblical city Ur, 400 kilometers south of Najaf.

The Italians are aiming to save archaeological areas across Iraq, to broaden tourist itineraries, and to promote the museum of Nassiriya and the Dhi Qar region. "This is possible thanks to the trust and relations we have built here through the years," says archaeologist Stefania Berlioz.

After the successful opening of the Virtual Museum of Iraq in 2009, the cooperative projects between Italians and Iraqi people are focusing on Ur, which was the city of Abraham, who is referred to as a forefather in Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions. For this reason, the ancient Babylon might become a modern destination of inter-religious initiatives and multicultural pilgrimages for a wide mix of believers.

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Society

Journalism In A Zero-Trust World: Maria Ressa Speaks After Rappler Shut Down Again

The Rappler CEO and Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke with The Wire's Arfa Khanum Sherwani about how journalists everywhere need to prepare themselves for the worst-case scenario of government-ordered closure and what they should do to face up to such a challenge.

Maria Ressa, Filipino journalist, author and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

Arfa Khanum Sherwani

HONOLULU — For someone who’s just been ordered to shut down the news website she runs, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is remarkably cheerful about what may happen next.

In a speech she gave to a conference at the East-West Center here on challenges the media face in a “zero trust world”, Ressa said that she and her colleagues were prepared for this escalation in the Philippines government’s war on independent media and will carry on doing the work they do. “If you live in a country where the rule of law is bent to the point it’s broken, anything is possible…. So you have to be prepared.”

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