Al-Jazeera Hits the Media Limelight If It Bugs Them, It Must be Good [Archives:2001/49/Focus]

December 3 2001

By: Hassan Al-Haifi
Perhaps there has not been a source of irritation to many die hard Zionists and their blind supporters than the Al-Jazeera channel has proven to be over, not just the last two or three months, but also before that dreadful day of September 11, 2001. Of course, the broadminded observer should be careful and not jump to conclusions, without reading the fine print in what has been written about Al-Jazeera, that pioneering Arab media channel, that has not only aroused the interest of its millions of faithful viewers throughout the world, but the enemies of this nation, in their various manifestations, anti Islamic, anti – Arab, anti – Palestinian, anti Semites (in the context of the proper definition of the word ‘Semite’), etc., or pro Zionist, pro Israel, pro Sharon, etc., who have all made it a point that to keep an eye on the pioneering channel that al-Jazeera has proven to be.
What interests us here, is not so much the general approval that the favorable audience of Al-Jazeera Channel conveys, but rather the strong diatribe, continuously waged against the free public medium of the Arabs that Al-Jazeera has come to be, in the American newspapers and by some of the gung-ho supporters of the Zionist cause in the Administration and the US Congress. It is interesting how this diatribe could take on such a systematic course, to the point that one wonders if indeed such attacks are indeed a good omen that something good has finally emerged out of the dark and seemingly hopeless nation that we have come to be?
I cannot say how many articles, this observer came across and how many sneers have been seen on the faces of US officials, and those of their spoiled baby Israel, all of which try to convince the world that whatever comes out of Al Jazeera should not be seen, believed or heard. Yet, this strong, albeit critical, interest is in itself a clear indication that Al-Jazeera must be doing something right!
There have been many occasions when this observer wanted to comment on the Arab media channels, especially the television satellite stations, but I felt that it would not be necessary, because the truth of the matter is that most of the Arab media channels are sterile, void of creativity and culture and literally serve as make – up artists to the regimes they serve or to their owners, and thus have yet to reach the standards of real professional public information outlets anyway to deserve any comments from anyone. If we look at the great (of course, this is said in jest) output our satellite channels came out with for the Ramadhan season, the only conclusion, I can come up with that is that the Arab sat channels should all be merged into one channel, since they are serving the exact same purpose, if we can assume that they do serve any purpose at all for that matter. What we have in terms of output are a couple of Kuwaiti soap operas, three or four Syrian serials, some of which do more to excite the libido than tickle the funny bone or convey a historical message, or four or five Egyptian soaps, with pretty much the same characteristics, although the libido here gets greater attention, as usual, not to mention the Saudi repeated attempts at comedy that was worn out a long time ago before ever needing to reach No. 9. The sad thing is that these serials are all run on most of the Arabic sat channels and thus you literally have a 24 hour rendition of the same garbage. In fact, would you believe that one serial, for example, can be seen in four channels simultaneously? Many of these channels are state run channels. There are of course the religious inspirational talkies, where except for the reruns of the late Sheikh Al-Sha’arawi and the late Mohammed Al-Ghazalli (God bless their souls), where one not only gains inspirational insight, but also Arabic language proficiency, most of these talkies are a waste of our time.. God help us, because except for maybe Sheikh Al-Kubaisy, we have nothing else to look forward to, in terms of religious inspiration, except for the corny or bland talks of some of our brand of exported religious mentors, who were responsible for sending a lot of our youth to die needlessly in Afghanistan, or some self-proclaimed religious scholars, who never really have any credentials beyond opportunism and exploitation of people’s sensitivities, while they live lives that are far away from the humble lives of say, the Prophet Mohammed (Peace of Allah be upon him) and the Orthodox Caliphs (God bless their souls). What is really sad, in all the religious programs, is that most of the religious inspirational programs fail to even convey that Islam’s major theme is to combat oppression, especially the transgressions of the rulers, and to advocate for the alleviation of the suffering of the subjects, within Islamic societies, rich and poor. God only knows how much suffering we have under most of the regimes that prevail in the Moslem World and how such regimes are the classic originators of Government by terror. Surely we are still far away from being anyway near the Moslem Ummah that God ordained for and the Prophet Mohammed (P) struggled so painstakingly to implant, and much guidance is needed to foster the believers into understanding that all Moslems are responsible for setting their houses in order and their governments in the proper direction that will truly reflect that we are indeed faithful believers in Islam and faithful followers of the Prophet Mohammed (p). Otherwise, whom are we kidding?
To come back to Al-Jazeera, we must point out here that, for the first time, the West has come out against the very principles they persist in telling us they uphold: free speech, freedom of the press, etc. The critics of Al-Jazeera insist that they should not show what they are showing. Why?
Of course, they are not just afraid of touching on the sensitivities of Moslems everywhere, because to tell the truth, Moslem sensitivities have been taken out of the public opinion scans long ago (thanks to the repressive regimes most Moslems live under, that do not allow us to demonstrate, speak and write (up to certain limits), even if it is to criticize our common enemies, assuming that they truly share our enemies with us, which is really somewhat doubtful, because they have helped them more than any others to get where they got to), but rather they are afraid that the real and tragic scenes projected by Al-Jazeera might touch the sensitivities of some of the ‘soft-hearted’ people in the West, who will express their feelings openly against suffering of human beings, because their mores dictate so. Yes, they are afraid of Al-Jazeera, because Al-Jazeera is talking media language westerners can comprehend and feel professionally inclined to accept. So, even if there are three part serials of articles against Al-Jazeera, written under Arabic names such as the Fouad Ajami article in the New York Times: What the Moslem World is Watching, 11/18/2001, we should support Al-Jazeera and denounce any attempts to try to clamp down the high professional acumen of the Al-Jazeera staff. What would we do without people like Ahmed Mansour or Ghassan Bin Jeddou (I hope I am close to the right spelling) and all the other fine Al-Jazeera anchors and correspondents? Carry on Al-Jazeera, we love all that they are saying about you, because we know that, deep inside, it comes more out of respect, if not fear.