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Showdown: Iraq: Interview With High School Teacher in Iraq

Aired September 25, 2002 - 12:50   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: As if we needed further proof of a wired world first, the Internet cafe has opened in Baghdad. It opened at the end of July. The Internet also offers outsiders a look inside Iraq.
CNN technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg has been surveying some of the options on the Net. He is joining us now from the CNN Center in Atlanta -- Daniel.


Wolf, we thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce some people to sites that would provide some insight into what's happening in Iraq. They were aimed at people who may have moved from the region to here, or people in north America who are just curious to know more about what's happening in Iraq and the Middle East, so let's jump right into it his.

The first one we are going to look at is one called You see here, there are a number of different links. It offers a good overview what's happening in Iraq. We're talking about history, culture, population information, information, geography. As well we see here, there is information about a number of other different Arab nations that you go to these different links on the site, potentially dozens of them.

Interestingly, access as you pointed out at beginning, is very limited, extremely limited in Iraq, so most of these sites are hosted outside of the country. In fact, this one is hosted, in Michigan.

The next one going to is one called Iraqi art. It offers people a chance to learn about culture that is happening in Iraq, whether it is songs, art, performers, artist. In fact, you can listen to more than 150 different Iraqi songs going to this particular site. You see here talking about different artists on the site. So it's a place to go to get some general information about Iraqi culture. This site, according to Internet records, is actually hosted in Jordan.

And, finally, we're going to listen to Iraq Voice. This site proclaims to be the largest Iraqi community online. You can go here to news and information about Iraq. There are links to live radio and television updates, as well as of course there are chatrooms and message boards where you can go and share information, debate information about what's happening in Iraq. We should note, as a caution to people who want to go to this site.

Right here, we're seeing some of the links to message boards and chat, that in these message boards chatrooms, as with just about any of these sites, there is some profanity being used, so you want to take some caution when you go there, as well, with anything emotional volatile, like a potential war, there are a lot of sensitive subjects being discussed and debated, and the information needs to be vetted and checked by anyone going to these Web sites, in general, with anywhere you want to go on the Internet.

We're hoping to make this a regular segment, Wolf, where we're bringing information to people online about Iraq.

Back to you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Daniel. We'll be getting back to you periodically.

And this, a seven member group of American antiwar activists has now arrived in Baghdad delivering medical supplies to hospitals. California high schoolteacher Leah Wells is one of them. She is joining us now live from Baghdad.

Leah, tell why you decided to make this trip to Baghdad.

LEAH WELLS, TEACHER: I decided to come here to bring messages of peace to my students from the United States to the students here in Iraq.

BLITZER: That what you're doing might be misunderstood by the Iraqis, that the United States might not necessarily be serious about this commitment that the Iraqis must disarm?

WELLS: I think students are really just concerned about what's going to happen to them here. I mean, they are going about daily business, and I came to tell them that my students don't hate them and that the majority of student in the U.S. don't either. It is just a message of goodwill, because what we are not hearing the students's voices, young people.

BLITZER: And Amnesty International, another international human rights groups have blasted the Iraqi government, especially Saddam Hussein for committing horrendous human rights abuses. By going there now, don't you perhaps inadvertently express your support solidarity with that government?

WELLS: My solidarity is with Iraqi people and with the American people, and we are concerned about humanitarian crises and human rights abuses all over the world, in the United States all over the place. So really you are talking about human rights, talking about access to education, to clean water, to safety and not being afraid of being bombed.

BLITZER: But your bottom line is, you want the Iraqis to disarm and comply with U.N. resolutions, thereby end those economic sanctions, which, as you point out, are indeed hurting average Iraqis.

WELLS: Right. My main goal here is to show my student that the Iraqi people are not evil that there are 24, 25 million people who live here, who are just living their lives, and that my students don't hate them.

BLITZER: Leah Wells, good luck over there in Baghdad. Be careful,and have a safe trip back to California. Thanks for joining us.

WELLS: Thank you.



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