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CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
e-mail: melvin-shaw@uiowa.edu

Release: April 3, 2002

EDITOR'S NOTE: A press conference for Robert Fisk is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 9 in River Room 3 (near the Iowa House Hotel front desk) at the Iowa Memorial Union.

'Independent' correspondent Robert Fisk weighs in on bin Laden, terrorism

Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent for London's "Independent" newspaper who thrice has interviewed Osama bin Laden and who drew international attention after being beaten by Afghan refugees in Pakistan, will speak at a free lecture Tuesday, April 9 at the University of Iowa.

The lecture, "Sept. 11—Ask Who Did It, But For Heaven's Sake Don't Ask Why," is at 7:30 p.m. at Macbride Auditorium and is hosted by the University Lecture Committee. Fisk's address will analyze some of the motivations and history of the Middle East leading up to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Fisk was initially scheduled to speak at the UI on Oct. 2 but cancelled the lecture last September in order to report on the news as it happened in the Middle East. Last December, Fisk's car broke down while he was driving in Pakistan near the border city of Quetta. Fisk has said that when he attempted to push the car to the side of the road, he eventually was surrounded by as many as 100 people before an attack ensued. Fisk has expressed an understanding about why he was attacked by a mob that threw stones and assaulted him with punches. It has been reported that many of Fisk's attackers had relatives killed during the U.S.'s early bombings of the Afghan city, Kandahar.

In a story carried by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), he said, "I'm going to bear the scars for the rest of my life. Sadly, I broke down in the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesn't excuse them for beating me up so badly but there was a real reason why they should hate Westerners so much.

"I don't want this to be seen as a Muslim mob attacking a Westerner for no reason. They had every reason to be angry. I've been an outspoken critic of the U.S. actions myself. If I had been them, I would have attacked me."

Fisk has a well-regarded perspective on Middle East terrorism, which is why he was invited to campus last fall during Middle East Education Week, an event sponsored by Iowans for Peace with Iraq and several other groups.

Fisk won the Amnesty International UK Press Awards in 1998 for his reports from Algeria, and in 2000, for his articles on the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. He received a doctorate in political science from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, in 1985 and an honorary doctorate of literature and journalism from the University of Lancaster, England. He was the "Times Belfast" correspondent from 1971 to 1975 and the Middle East correspondent from 1976 to 1987. He has covered the recent conflict in Northern Ireland, Israeli invasions of Lebanon, the Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq war, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He has also covered the Gulf War, and wars in Bosnia and Algeria, Palestinian uprisings, and NATO's war with Yugoslavia.

Fisk recently contributed to "Iraq Under Siege: the Deadly Impact on Sanctions of War (2000), and wrote Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War (1990, 1992), and In Time of War: Ireland, Ulster, and the Price of Neutrality (1982, 1983).