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April 11, 2003

Editor of the London Arabic Daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Criticizes the Arab Media's War Coverage

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for this article in MEMRI
[...]"I [understand] the feelings of my colleagues, the Arab journalists, who deal with events emotionally rather than reasonably. They collect fragments of news reports that suit their hopes. But professionally, a journalist who stays within the limits of the news he has, and does that impartially, renders the best service to his readers and viewers, who will thus be able to see reality as it really is."

"I know that adopting an impartial stand in the [Arab] media world is akin to suicide, because there are many who push the media into extremes, and take 'nationalistic' positions, and maintain that whoever thinks differently is committing treason against the [national] cause. [They maintain] that lying for the sake of the cause is moral and honorable. The Arab media [of today], in these hard times, is slowly turning into the 1967 media; at that time, radio announcers, analysts, and journalists exaggerated acts of courage and covered up defeats, which - historically - became a mockery."

"The Arab media today, with its clear inclination towards exaggerations and false promises of victory, is feeding the public stories that have nothing to do with the real events in the field. Hence, it is replicating the old media, despite the fact that it is broadcasting in color and using electronic technologies…"

"Before the beginning of the [1991 Gulf War], Arabs who supported the Iraqi regime came up with floods of promises that it would be a great war, a second Vietnam, and that tens of thousands of the invaders would return in body bags, and that the Gulf would become a sea of blood. We were deluged with reports about the support of the international street [for Iraq], but soon the whole thing ended with the signing of the Safwan Agreement, in which Iraq surrendered completely, to the surprise of millions…"

...there are groups of dancers who profit from inflaming and inciting public sentiments. These are groups that have nothing to do with Iraq or the war. They were happy with the American invasion more than the Americans themselves. They are taking advantage of the crisis in order to recruit people ideologically… I asked one of them, 'how can you lead the protests and inflame public opinion, when tomorrow you will have to cooperate with the Americans in the region? How will you sell your oil and co-exist with the [new] political dictates? How are you going to convince those minds that have been stuffed with rejection, to deal with reality?'"

"In such crises, objectivity and the reflection of both sides of the issue are essential for level-headedness and for preventing this craziness that afflicts people and governments. No one is being asked to support the war… but, it is illogical that officials and the media become appendages to a collapsing regime, just because of [media] competition and the fear from the hellish rhetoric of those who are full of hate."[more]