A recent editorial in the local Al Sabah newspaper has sparked an unexpectedly fierce debate on press freedom in Iraq. Entitled "800,000 blankets", the editorial was a witty critique of the government in the aftermath of the robbery of a the al Rafidian bank last month, a crime that was alleged to have been undertaken by a group said to have worked for Adel Abdul Mahdi, an Iraqi vice president.Ahmed Abdul Hussain, the journalist who wrote the 800,000 blankets asked for a one week vacation in anticipation of the storm his piece would cause.He subsequently received death threats and insults and has become the personification of the present struggle in Iraq between journalists and the Iraqi government.The government has been trying to introduce new laws to curtail publishing and internet access in Iraq which, coupled with the use of old laws from the Saddam Hussein era against press freedom, could potentially have devastating results. Inside Iraq debates if Iraqi journalists are right to worry about their freedom or if the government simply reacting to some irresponsible journalism.Jassim Azzawi is joined by Jane Arraf, an Iraqi correspondent for Christian Science Monitor, Saad al-Muttalibi, a political advisor at the Ministry of National Dialogue, and Freshta Raper, an Iraqi journalist.
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