Last updated: April 27, 2011 - 8:25am
Digital media have amplified the young voices of democracy ringing around the Middle East, but the flip side here is that the authorities and insurgents alike are also adept at using technology, particularly cellphones, largely unavailable here before the 2003 American invasion, as part of their arsenals of intimidation.
Actual violence may have declined substantially since the worst days of the war, but a culture of fear and intimidation still prevails. It has been on display during the intermittent protests that have rippled across Iraq in the wake of the regional uprisings. Death threats delivered by text message have become such a common experience across the spectrum of Iraq’s public-minded professions — lawyers, journalists, activists and government officials — that the two mobile phone companies, Zain and Asia Cell, have arrangements with the police and courts to investigate them. “There is a great deal of cooperation between the security forces, the Iraqi judiciary and Zain with exchanging information,” said Mazin al-Asadi, a representative for Zain. Yet most of the threats are untraceable, having been sent from throw-away phones and SIM cards bought on the black market.
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