Reporters from the corporate media told the story from Baghdad. In a city craving information the man walking along Paradise Square was surrounded by people, as if he was giving out chunks of gold. But in the 21st century, information can be as good as gold.
The paper, called Tarieq Al-Shaab, or The Way of the People, had hit the streets of Baghdad as the first newspaper since the U.S. war and fall of Saddam Hussein. The Way of the People is published by the heroic Iraqi Communist Party (ICP). People had been executed for smuggling it from northern Iraq since it was banned in 1979.
“Saddam is gone but the paper is back,” Faris Faris, from the ICP, told reporters. The paper was trucked into Baghdad from the north. Sixty thousand copies were distributed in two days.
The Way of the People was a popular daily in the years before Hussein’s rule. When the paper was banned, ICP members kept it running as a monthly, printing it in northern Iraq, in secret. In 1996, when northern Iraq was more or less autonomous, the paper moved above ground and reporters began putting their names on the bylines. But the paper was still banned in Baghdad.
The first issue’s headlines read “The dictator has fallen; our people look for democracy and unity,” “Thousands dead in bombings,” and another was “Humanitarian groups: Oil protected, not Iraqi people.”
“We are the only people capable of publishing, so we will publish as often as we can,” Faris said. “As much as water, people need news.”
Noah Ibrahim, a reporter and editor for The Way of the People for 13 years, said during the Hussein rule “every edition we printed, every newspaper we moved, we knew we could be killed. It was worth it because we wanted to tell the truth to the Iraqi people.”
The Communist Party existed throughout the Hussein years as well. Members communicated with secret signs – including placements of pens or shirt sleeves rolled up in a certain way. The ICP was one of the largest communist parties in the Middle East before Hussein.
Plans are underway to get daily editions of the newspaper up and running in the next month or so.
Ibrahim told reporters, “We will try to develop our reporters to use the Internet, and that will be difficult because the ones in Baghdad have never used it. But if they know truth and how to tell truth, they will be very good reporters.”
While the bad news of the genocidal impact of the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq permeates throughout the world, the chunks of gold and hope are found in the ICP’s heroism and courage in getting out their newspaper. It is certainly good news for all progressive forces and freedom of the press lovers the world over.