Is the media responsible? [Archives:2003/03/Focus]

January 20 2003

Dean of Mass Media Training and Qualifying Institute
The so-called US-led war on terror has affected media all over the world and Yemen’s media – both official and non-official, has not been an exception.
Rather, it has been used as a tool for an emotional mobilization against US policies towards Arabs. This has nothing to do with press professionalism.
Material of the radio and TV stations as well as the printed press have played the same role as that of the mosque preachers in mobilizing public antagonism against the US and its policies. They do not differentiate between the government and the people. They all wish an end to the US people despite their religion and political stands.
This irrational, biased and opportunist speech has raised hostility and antagonized the Yemeni public opinion against US policy in the region. As a result, it has produced some Yemeni extremists and fanatics who are hostile to anything related to the US.
The outcome is Jibla’s heinous crime against the US aid workers as well as the assassination of Jarallah Omar, one of the most outstanding and liberal politicians in the country. What a pity.
If we look at the target of such terrorist operations, we will be able to recognize we are facing an organized crime that wants to target the whole society and its interests and stability. Regardless of the real motives of the perpetrators, we can not escape blaming media and its operators who should be held accountable for this mistaken mobilization of youngsters.
Why target a prominent leader in the socialist party while opening the Islah’s conference despite the close contact of the two parties? And why only Jarallah, who fought during his life for tolerance, anti-terrorism, and dialogue between all people of different thoughts and ideas?
Why the US doctors? Is it because of being Americans? Or is it because they have taken the trouble of coming to Yemen to help its impoverished and needy people? Is this the way we pay them back? How shall we meet the world with such a disgusting behavior?
How should we ask the US people to stand by us and pressure their government to stop siding with Israel and supporting it? The first loser in such a battle is Yemen and Islam as a religion.
Yemen which is the country of wisdom and faith will shown in the international media and in this critical time in particular as a heaven for terrorism and fanaticism. The anti-Islam forces will use such incidents to continue tarnishing the image of Islam which is actually a religion of peace, tolerance and balance. Islam abhors and denounces killing, considering it a great sin.
Like all other Arab countries, Yemen is passing through a very critical situation, necessitating that all media people, mosque preachers, politicians, and opinion makers should be cautious and rational in addressing the public. They should prioritize the interests of the country and its future, leaving behind their own interests.
They should understand well that a word said in any occasion can be of very devastating consequences to all. It is very influential.
In such exceptional period of time, we should all join hands to fight against terrorism. This responsibility is not restricted to security men or government officials, but it is the business of all of us. Therefore, we must not deal with it indifferently or keep watching only. Rather, we should all denounce terrorism and declare that it has no place in our country.