Alan Johnston is free...

By Simon Barrow
July 4, 2007

... and the world is rejoicing. As are we. But thousands of people remain incarcerated in the region, not least in Iraq.

Alan very properly noted this, and the fact that the majority of these people are non-Western, in a couple of his interviews today. He is a remarkable man. And although he will not be returning to his 'old job', he will, I hope, have a real impact on international awareness of what's going on in Gaza.

The other notable element of the story is that, on the one hand, it is rehabilitating Hamas and bringing elements of Palestinian politics in from the cold (ending the international blockade is vital to a future peace process). On the other hand, global pressure has played a vital role in opening up the space for this to become possible - Muslims, Christians, secularists, journalist, NGOs, civil rights groups, and countless ordinary citizens mobilising through the net and other informal elements of the grassroots, participatory political process.

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