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Archive for May 10th, 2011

AlJazeera’s coverage of the events have been arguably one of the best. However.

Has anybody else noticed that AlJazeera English stopped inviting As’ad Abu Khalil to comment on their programs after he criticized them about their Libya reports?

That’s notable because the ‘Arab Spring’ has been the focus of AJE’s reporting for the last three months.

And As’ad is right. AJE seems to rally with a certain agenda.

For example, it seems to sell the youth movements over other strands. In Egypt, when the referendum was up for votes, although it was clear most people there liked the referendum, AJE framed it in a way that put focus on the youth groups who were opposed to a yes vote (because they wanted a more drastic change in the constitution.)

The over-emphasis on social networking was annoying, because internet penetration in Tunisia (~30%) is quite low. Even less in Egypt (~20%). Why was the emphasis on English speaking affluent Facebook users, while somewhat downplaying  labour movements etc?

Similarly, AlJazeera seems to completely ignore support base that Gaddafi has in and out of Libya. They never reported on the laudable social programs that Gaddafi implemented- for example free education and free healthcare(1). Libya has a low GINI index (~36) which means less income inequality than most countries. AlJazeera never cared to report.

They also seemed to cheer the Western powers into invading Libya, whereas if they reported on the misgivings people have about another Western invasion, perhaps UN would mandate the neighboring Arab/Muslim countries to take action(2).

Even worse, AlJazeera barely mentioned the attacks on blacks in Libya by racist mobs and the lynchings that took place. Similarly, the attacks by some Bahrainis on South Asians got no attention at all.

They cold shouldered African Union when they expressed concern about the Western involvement, and also when offered to intervene to reach a deal.

I am not even sure that the ‘rebels’ in Libya are genuine about change. Despite all their bravado when facing the camera, they fled their posts when facing guns. That’s not the trademark of a desperate population, that’s the behaviour of rich who want others to fight for them. The situation only improved after Egyptian, British and some other special forces were seen on the ground.

And what was the “where are you Sarkozy” call (from some ‘rebels’) about? I have serious misgivings about who these Libyan ‘rebels’ are.

I think these issues can be understood when we recognize that AlJazeera is really a pan-Arab news channel that has a deep admiration for the West. That’s not unhealthy, but it’s important to keep in mind.

Notes:

1. The way Gaddafi treated criticism can not and should not be defended, but that is the only thing that gets covered.

2. When there was reports of the crackdown in Libya, I was hoping for some kind of intervention from it’s neighbors. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey, even. It was naive to assume that the Western powers will let that happen. They like to ‘seize the initiative’, i.e. they want to be there and directing events wherever and whenever they can on whatever excuse they can find.

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