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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Al-Jazeera's second class victims

Al-Jazeera, which claims impartiality and equal coverage of "the opinion and the other opinion" is very far from being so. Hostile interviewing of Israelis and excessive showings of Iraqi deaths does not qualify as objective coverage. Let me tell you why.

While their Iraq coverage does show us what many other news networks simply and shamefully ignore, the human cost of the imbecile American occupation, al-Jazeera insists on calling acts of murder "resistance" when they're clearly plain unjustifiable murder.

Take for example the headline of this article "Blair to keep troops in Iraq, admits resistance ferocity." As you might expect, Blair did not refer to it as "resistance." In fact, there is no mention of "resistance" in the body of the article simply because Blair called it "insurgency" and the al-Jazeera online editor could not fabricate beyond the headline.

That same article, as most al-Jazeera articles on Iraq, reports the "killing" of a number of Iraqis. If you click on an adjacent Palestine story, however, you'll learn that Palestinians were "martyred." Why can't Iraqis be martyrs too? I personally would prefer if they didn't play God and judge what part of the after life these poor souls will be sent to, but why are Iraqis being treated as second class victims?

Al-Jazeera likes to highlight the Iraqi death toll, but those deaths are clearly not as special as other deaths in the Arab world, especially when the killers are Arab or Muslim. Other "unspecial" deaths have included Rafik Hariri and the others who are still being killed/targeted by Syria. These are "killed" or "meet their deaths."

What a shame for a network that claims fairness and objectivity. Fairness is not in only covering what others ignore, but in treating everybody equal in the language you use to describe their unfortunate deaths. By reserving the label "martyr" for mostly Sunni victims killed by non-Arabs, al-Jazeera is no different from Fox news or other networks that reserve the label "terrorist" for Muslims.

Many Iraqis have taken Al Jazeera off of their satellite tv lists. They don't ever want to watch the channel.
Oddly enough, al Hurra is the most popular news channel in Iraq, followed by al Arabiya.
That's the inverse of the rest of the Arab world. Al Jazeera has massive viewership; al Hurra practically none.

Al Jazeera is playing to Sunni audiences and anti-Americanism. Sadly, that is possibly adding to the problem in Iraq.
I wonder if they reserve the word "martyr" for sunni victims, or if it is more for those killed by "zionist" forces.

Personally, I think the word martyr should not be used. It gives a mirage of elegance to being killed.

And in general, no network is fair. The only way to really obtain fair coverage is to watch Al-Jazeera, Fox, CNN, BBC, ... etc. The same applies for Lebanese news. You can't just focus on one TV station or one newspaper.
Good questions with an easy answer. Read the economist.
I still think that we have the best press in the Arab world, which doesn't mean that it's perfect.
The Economist rocks.
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