Al-Jazeera considered harmful.

Matthew X profrv at
Mon May 3 20:57:51 PDT 1999 freedom of expression
Abdullah Farraj Al-Sharif/Al-Madinah

Freedom of expression has long been absent in the Arab world. While all 
Arab intellectuals emphasize the need for it, they do not accept the wild 
lies and prevarications dished out regularly by the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera 
on a round-the-clock basis. The station chooses guests with dubious 
qualifications to participate in what is arguably the worst kind of talk show.
Guests rant and rave, reminding viewers of a brawl. The participants are 
never concerned with the authenticity of evidence used to support their 
arguments. Such shows, which are not often broadcast by other stations in 
other parts of the world, spew hatred and hostility all around.
Viewers wonder at the apparent contradiction in the way the station 
presents programs and in what its goals really are. Its motto is ‘Opinion 
and the Other Opinion’ but the station’s performance has proved that the 
‘other opinion’ has no place in its broadcasts. When a topic is discussed — 
Iraq, for example — the discussion rambles on interminably. Viewers who may 
or may not know anything about the topic participate by telephone. The 
moderator puts questions to them but they are not allowed to express a 
dissenting opinion. Questions are phrased in such a way that the desired 
answer is implied and it is thus clear what the participants are expected 
to say. The trick usually works as unsuspecting participants initially 
agree with the moderator and later when the trap has become obvious, the 
participant protests that he or she has not been allowed to state his 
views. At this point the moderator jumps in to say angrily, “We are 
discussing the likelihood of America’s attacking Iraq and not the station’s 
style of presentation.”
The station’s objective becomes quite clear to those who watches it for 
some time. It aims at the total surrender of all Arab interests to American 
policies. The station seems to follow a skillfully-devised scheme, which is 
much worse than either covert or overt Zionist schemes, to deprive Arabs of 
all their legitimate rights. The viewers, who see through the station’s 
evil designs, are at a loss to explain why a Gulf country continues to 
finance a station which has ruined good relations with a number of Arab 
countries because of its baseless criticisms and allegations. If the 
station is impartial in its treatment, one wonders why it never discusses 
the state of affairs in Qatar. Is Qatar an ideal and infallible state while 
all other Arab states and governments and countries deserve to be condemned?
Though I have been frank in my opinions about the way the station operates, 
I want to stress my keenness to maintain our close family and cultural ties 
with our brothers in Qatar despite the efforts of the TV station to ruin them.
14 August 2002
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