My latest New Matilda column is about the vital importance of al-Jazeera:
The Arabic television station Al Jazeera recently hosted its 3rd annual forum in Doha, Qatar. The gathering attracted a wide range of speakers from across the journalistic world. Independent reporter Dahr Jamail reported the proceedings:
The Al Jazeera television network could be emerging as a freedom champion against US pressures on the channel, leading media figures say.
‘I support Al Jazeera because [it] has done more to propagate democracy in the Middle East region than anybody else, certainly more than the American Government has done,’ media specialist Hugh Miles told Inter Press Service (IPS). ‘It’s strange to me that people refer to Al Jazeera as a “terrorist network” because that couldn’t be further from the truth.’
Miles spoke to IPS at the Al Jazeera forum at Doha (31 March to 2 April). The forum highlighted the successful recent expansion of the network while also addressing difficulties that reporters face in the Middle East hot spots. Miles, author of Al Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenged the World and an award-winning freelance journalist said former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had got it wrong on Al Jazeera.
‘Al Jazeera has been called a “terrorist network” or “the voice of (Osama) bin Laden,” but this just demonstrates deep ignorance of its history and the channel,’ Miles said.
In the face of constant American aggression against non-Western media, Abdul Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, told Jamail that, ‘ We [journalists] should stand united against the new wave of embedded journal ism because this is censorship.’
He continued: ‘Freedom of expression is said to be a part of Western values. The American Administration is destroying Western values by shooting journalists, by killing the messenger.’
My New Matilda archive is here.