Amr Bakr is an Internet addict. These days, the computer repairman finds himself in need of a fix. His mornings used to consist of sipping coffee while he checked his five e-mail accounts and read news online from the BBC and al-Jazeera. Since American missiles demolished antennas and transmitters atop the Iraq Ministry of Information building early last month, Bakr and the rest of Iraq have been cut off. “I MISS IT A LOT,” Bakr said, sitting in a computer repair shop next to one of Baghdad’s shuttered state Internet cafes. “I used to use it at least five to six hours a day.” While Bakr and other Iraqis are upset about the slicing of their precious tether to the world, they’re also optimistic about the future of the Internet in Iraq, where access was previously available to a tiny minority — and only then under severe restrictions. “I consider it as a gate to the 21st century for Iraqis who have been living in a dark age,” said Shakir Abdulla, director general of the State Company for Internet Services, the agency that distributed the Internet in Iraq. “This will change their mentality.” For the past few weeks, Abdulla’s technicians have been hammering together an Internet base station that will soon serve a 50-seat Internet cafe and some homes for the first time since April. Full Story
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