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Syria’s 1st Private Magazine Arrives

July 22, 2002

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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) _ Syria’s first privately owned magazine hit newsstands on Monday, reflecting Syrian moves toward press reform.

Abyad wa Aswad, or ``White and Black,″ is a political, economic and cultural magazine ``meant to reflect all views,″ the magazine’s managing director, Ayman al-Daqr, told The Associated Press.

An initial print run of 10,000 copies of the 50-page weekly magazine was circulated. The publication sells for 30 Syrian pounds (60 cents).

The magazine is the third privately owned publication to receive government approval to operate, following the satirical weekly al-Doumari, or the Lamplighter, and The Economist.

Although they are seen as privately owned publications, their content is still closely monitored by the hard-line government. Last year, the Lamplighter was ordered to remove two pages critical of the prime minister.

Syria has three official dailies and newspapers affiliated with political parties with ties to the ruling Baath party.

Since taking office in July 2000, Syrian leader Bashar Assad has freed political prisoners and allowed private universities and banks. At the same time, his government has cracked down on opponents and political discussion groups, making it clear that there are limits to the reform movement.

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