“Cops” on Iraqi TV

The Iraqi-produced TV show “The Cops Show” based in Kirkuk, based loosely on the American TV show with a similar name, has attracted both praise and criticism of police, as well as a few terrorist threats.

Created to make government more transparent, “The Cops Show” featuring Kirkuk officers in action is the first of its kind in the country and is breaking new ground in Iraqi television. A live call-in portion gives the public the chance to praise the security forces or gripe about them.

Screened weekly on Kirkuk Television, which broadcasts in this northern city of nearly 1 million people, “The Cops Show” has opened the floodgates in a community long suppressed.

“During Saddam Hussein’s time, it was very different,” station manager Nasser Hassan Mohammed said. “You were unable to ask questions. You couldn’t say anything bad about police.

“Now people can call in directly. Anyone has the right to do this. This is the difference now. This is freedom.” — Associated Press

Most callers offer praise for the work the police do, though some say there is not enough police presence in particular neighborhoods, and a few are critical or rude. All are offered the chance to speak their opinion. A very few prefer to express their opinion with bullets and bombs, however.

The show’s popularity has not gone unnoticed by its enemies, and the studios are heavily guarded. The station’s employees regularly get threats, Mohammed said, adding that he himself was hit by more than two dozen bullets during an assassination attempt in May 2004.

It certainly goes to show the difference between a free society and a tyrannical one. A TV show like this would have been impossible under Saddam Hussein. I wonder if this show is on BitTorrent yet?