End of Al Jazeera, a dark day for the Middle East
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2017-07-27 02:41:30

End of Al Jazeera, a dark day for the Middle East

On 5 June this year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.

 

Among other things, they justified the act based on the state’s alleged support of “terrorist” groups and it’s so called diplomatic sympathies with Iran, all of which Doha denies. Soon after, it emerged that the lifting of sanctions might come at the cost of no fewer than 13 demands, later reduced to six principles.

Among the obligations was the closure of all news outlets which are directly and indirectly Qatari funded, it specified; Al JazeeraArabi21RassdAl-Araby Al-JadeedMekameleen and Middle East Eye.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani responded that Al Jazeera Media Network was to remain an “internal affair”. In response, Giles Trendle, the managing director of Al Jazeera English, said: “It’s as absurd as it would be for Germany to demand Britain to close the BBC.”

Why is the Doha-based broadcaster being targeted? Al Jazeera is funded by Qatar, yet claims an independent editorial line. When Al Jazeera was established it disrupted the mainstream Arab language media. On the one hand, it was celebrated as mouthpiece for voices that had long been neglected, on the other, shunned as a tool for inciting sectarianism and dissent in the Arab region.  While the sanctions are unprecedented, spats between Qatar and its neighbours have been common over the years and similarly Al Jazeera has frequently come under pressure.

Pressure and passions aside, many argue that for a media channel to be funded by an authoritarian regime remains problematic on credibility front.

The fact that Qatar’s support of terrorist groups is projected by states who are directly involved in the funding of extremist organisations remains confusing at best. The attack therefore should not in itself tarnish Al Jazeera’s or other targeted media’s reputations but instead serve as an alarm bell to the wider onslaught on media by authoritarian governments and leaders around the world. Bias or not, one can’t help agreeing with Trendle when he says: “The day that Al Jazeera isn’t around would be a dark day for journalism and a dark day for the region.”

Categories:   Middle East ،
Tags:   Saudia ، Qatar ، Bahrain ، Doha ، Al-Jazeera ،
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