Arab Repression of the Media
Hypocritical Human Rights Groups Silent
Can anyone imagine the reaction if Israel had sentenced a journalist to 50 lashes for writing an "instigating report"?
Can anyone imagine the reaction if Israel were to ban Al-Jazeera from operating in its territory?
Can anyone imagine the reaction if the Israeli government were to ban TV channels from broadcasting live events from Israel?
These are legitimate questions in light of what has been happening recently in some Arab countries.
In Saudi Arabia, a journalist was recently sentenced to 50 lashes for allegedly instigating protests against a government electricity company following a series of power cuts.
Fahd al-Jukhaidib, who works for the daily Al-Jazeirah newspaper, was also sentenced to two months in prison for his "crime." He will be whipped in public in front of the electricity company offices.
The verdict has drawn little attention in the West and prominent organizations that claim to defend freedom of the media have yet to voice their opinion on this matter.
The silence of the international media and the absence of a strong response from human rights and media organizations have obviously encouraged Arab dictators to continue and even step up their repressive measures against journalists and various media outlets.
The case is unlikely to spark widespread protests in the West, most likely because Israel is not involved. Had the poor journalist been sentenced by an Israeli court, his case would have made it to the front pages of the mainstream media in Europe and North America.
Who cares if an Arab government mistreats or tortures an Arab journalist? Besides, which Western journalist would have the courage to travel to Saudi Arabia to cover a story that could get him or her into trouble with Saudi authorities?
Earlier this week, the Moroccan government suspended the operations of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news network over what it called "unfair reporting."
The Moroccan government accused the TV channel of "seriously distorting Morocco's image and manifestly damaging its interests, most notably its territorial integrity."
The decision was taken in response to Al-Jazeera's reporting on the Western Sahara, a former Spanish Colony that was taken over by Morocco in 1975.
While the latest measure against Al-Jazeera drew sharp protests from the station and some Arab journalists, most Western journalists and media organizations chose not to respond.
But when Israel announced a few years ago that it was considering punitive measures against some Al-Jazeera journalists, the move triggered an international outcry and drew strong condemnations from Western media outlets.
Egypt, the largest Arab country, deserves an award for excellence in suppressing freedom of the media and harassing journalists. Egyptian authorities have banned satellite channels from broadcasting live events or distributing news reports to other television stations.
The Egyptians have also blocked the transmissions of four privately owned stations, issued warnings to two others, and canceled a popular talk. Last month, newspaper editor Ibrahim Issa was fired for publishing an article written by one of President Hosni Mubarak's political rivals.
The crackdown on Egyptian journalists and media outlets comes ahead of the parliamentary elections in the country.
Such practices against the media have always been commonplace in the Arab world. But the feeling among Arab journalists is that the Arab dictators have decided to step up the campaign against the media. As long as the West continues to turn a blind eye to such practices, independent and brave journalists will become an endangered species in the Arab world.
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by Khaled Abu Toameh
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Fatah accused Hamas of "squandering" $700 million of financial aid earmarked for the Palestinian victims of war. Fatah wants to ensure that the millions of dollars intended for the Gaza Strip will pass through its hands and not end up in Hamas's bank accounts. Relying on Fatah in this regard is like asking a cat to guard the milk.
The head of the Palestinian Authority's Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that his group has retrieved $70 million of public funds fund embezzled by Palestinian officials. Arab and Western donors need to make sure that their money does not end up (once again) in the wrong hands. Without a proper mechanism of accountability and transparency, hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to find their way into the bank accounts of both Hamas and Fatah leaders.
by Mudar Zahran
"If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you." — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.
"Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar." — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.
"They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did." — D., Gazan journalist.
"Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way people had to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield." — K., graduate student
"The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas." — E., first-aid volunteer.
"We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here." — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.
by Ben Cohen
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That President Barack Obama failed even to mention oil as a critical factor in the war against IS during his speech to the nation on September 10, is an omission both revealing and dangerous in terms of how his administration wants to depict the stakes involved in this latest confrontation with the jihadis.
by Lawrence A. Franklin
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Another Muslim cleric in a madrassa [Islamic boys' school] describes child suicide bombers as "a gift from Allah that we have an unlimited number willing to be sacrificed to teach Americans a lesson."
Using children as suicide bombers will stop when... they stop "condoning the killing of innocents."
by Denis MacEoin
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"Islam is a religion of peace." — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, September 13, 2014.
"There is a place for violence in Islam. There is a place for jihad in Islam." — U.K. Imam Anjem Choudary, CBN News, April 5, 2010.
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In India alone, between 60 and 80 million Hindus may have been put to death by Muslim armies between the years 1000-1525.