In Yemen and elsewhere:The Saudis have got it all wrong! [Archives:2008/1172/Opinion]

July 14 2008

When the Saudi Arabian Al-Shark Al-Awsat Newspaper (SA for short) first came out in the 1980s in Arabic and later in English, one then thought really that now the Saudis are quickly jumping into the institutional frameworks that will create a vibrant and robust free Arab press. The anticipation was that this signaled a healthy break away from the melancholic press organs that have generally characterized the public media channels of the Arab World, which mostly were mouthpieces of the oppressive regimes of the region and which eventually froze all the potential trends toward achieving meaningful cultural progress in the region at large. With the SA being published in London, this only reinforced such an apparently misguided contention. That contention however easily evaporated early in the minds of this and many other observers, as the SA became more inclined to glamorizing the Saudi regime and to the defense of the latter when any criticism thereof came from anywhere such criticism might arise. Again, that in itself was perhaps understandable (but not of course professionally forgivable), but what is now worrying is that the SA will go out of its way to nurture religious animosities and feed the readers with the dogmatic and horrendously mischievous political intuitions of the Wahhabi establishment as the latter seeks to project itself throughout the world as the only voice of Islam. It is not the intention of this article to proceed from where the grossly inaccurate “view”” of SA's Mshari Zaydi left off