Iraq and the Netherlands

Owen Bennett Jones introduces insight, wit and analysis from BBC correspondents around the world. In this edition, Gabriel Gatehouse is on the streets of Baghdad to gauge how Iraqis are feeling about the imminent withdrawal of US troops; Christine Finn is delving into the tangled history of religious conflict and artistic dedication now on show in the "hidden" churches of Utrecht.

Waiting for the moment of truth

When American troops invaded Iraq, the world’s media provided a constant stream of dramatic coverage.

Shock and awe, the TV channels reported; some even dared to proclaim the country's 'liberation'.

Iraq is now insisting that by the end of this month most of the US soldiers in the country will have gone.

And the media will mark that moment too – but no doubt with rather less excitement.

Those who led the war effort tend to cite surveys which estimate the number of "excess civilian deaths" since the invasion at just over 100,000.

Of course, no one knows exactly how many Iraqi civilians were killed – but other estimates have added several hundred thousand more to that number.

In Baghdad, Gabriel Gatehouse heard mixed responses when he asked what it had all been for.

Bloemaert, the Baroque and the bodice

Religious practice may nowadays be in retreat in Europe, but the continent’s history has been been deeply influenced by religious devotion and rivalry.

And the conflicts of the past have left traces – painted and embroidered and sculpted, as well as those expressed in words of Church doctrine and scripture.

Recently, Christine Finn was able to see some rarely-displayed masterpieces in Utrecht in the Netherlands.

And they had a fascinating story to tell about the tactics used by the faithful to carry on their own ways of worship - even if that had to be done in secret.

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10 minutes

Last on

Tue 13 Dec 2011 04:50 GMT

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