November 22, 2005 Special Dispatch No. 1029

Editor of London Arabic Daily Attacks Al-Jazeera, Al-Manar & Al-Majd TV; Welcomes New BBC Arabic TV

November 22, 2005
Special Dispatch No. 1029

In an article titled "Welcome to the BBC! However...," Tariq Al-Homayed, editor of the London Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, criticized the Arab media, especially the television channels, which, he said, had for years been acting irresponsibly and were "ideology-laden" and "revenge-seeking." Al-Homayed said that a BBC Arabic news channel would be welcome if its administration was not left to Arab media representatives who would run it in accordance with their own ideological orientations. Al-Homayed was referring primarily to Al-Jazeera TV, as well as to Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV and the Saudi Al-Majd channel.

The following are excerpts based on the English version of the article:[1]

Al-Jazeera Extensively Aired a False Video Serving Syrian Attempts to Divert Responsibility for Al-Hariri's Assassination

"The commentaries by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed and Adel Darwish, each addressing the recentlyannounced launch of the BBC's Arabic television news channel, celebrated the idea, as Al-Rashed argued, that Arab media organizations are in need of major improvements. To that I agree, for the Arab media, especially broadcasting channels, needs to be developed.

"Our Arab media, particularly visual media, has been acting irresponsibly for years, with nobody objecting.

"For example, let us look at Mehlis' report about the videotape of Abu Adas, who [falsely] claimed responsibility for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri, and at how the Al-Jazeera news channel reported on the videotape, its choice of pictures to go with the report, and the number of times it broadcast the tape. [To view excerpts from this Al-Jazeera broadcast, see: ]

"[On the other hand,] we did not hear or see any commentaries [on Al-Jazeera] regarding what the Mehlis report said about [this false broadcast].

[According to the Mehlis report, based on the testimony of witnesses: 1) Abu Adas had been used as a fall guy by the Syrian intelligence; 2) he [had] never been connected to the organization purported to have carried out the assassination; and 3) no such organization even existed. 4) Abu Adas had been forced at gunpoint by the Syrian intelligence, and in particular by Assef Shawkat, to record the videotape claiming responsibility some time before Al-Hariri's assassination. 5) Abu Adas was later seen in a training camp in Syria, and 6) his dead body was subsequently placed in the vehicle near the assassination site, and was thus destroyed. 7) The videotape was then handed over to Al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera aired the videotape many times, but failed to make any mention of the circumstances surrounding it, as described in the Mehlis report.]

"It is for this reason that I express my support of the two writers in their welcoming of the Arabic BBC news channel, on the condition that we first know who will be in charge of the channel. This is where the main dilemma lies.

"If we want the new Arabic BBC channel to improve Arab media and to protect us from the channel [Al-Jazeera] that makes heroes out of figures like Abu Adas and [Ali Ubeid] Minkash, [the elderly Iraqi peasant reported to have shot down a U.S. Apache helicopter in Iraq in 2003] - then those in charge must be competent in the field of media.

"We must put a stop to overrun satellite stores that sell nothing but outdated ideas."

"We are Fed Up with Media That Tell Us That All Arab Crises are Caused by the Jews and Americans"

"...We are fed up with media that consistently tell us that all Arab crises are caused by the Jews and Americans. We have had enough of media that state that there will be no fundamental change in the region until 'the major crises of each nation' are resolved- yet do not provide any suggestions as to how to resolve these crises. We are fed up with media merely concerned with seeking revenge against others.

"...We are watching ideology-laden satellite channels. We watch Hizbullah's channel Al-Manar and the Saudi Al-Majd channel, as well as a number of Iraqi channels that have been described by some Iraqi officials as husayniyat ([products of] Shiite centers for religious education). In addition, we have the revenge-seeking channels such as that of Abu Adas (Al-Jazeera)..."

"What We Need is a Productive and Truthful Media"

"It is for these reasons that we welcome the Arabic BBC, [but] only if it chooses to be a genuine media channel that acquires its methods from the reputation of the British Association.

"However, if the administration is left to Arab media representatives of Arab satellite channels and Arab media associations, the very kind from which we suffer, who will manage it according to their ideological orientations and use these channels as a mouthpiece through which they seek revenge from personal and regional enemies - then the new BBC Arabic channel is not welcome.

"We do not need or want any more of these types of broadcasting channels, as we have enough. What we need is a productive and truthful media."

We Suffer From Doubletalk - on CNN: a "Terrorist"; on Al-Jazeera: "Sheikh Osama"

"We suffer today from [double] talk from those who to CNN will brand Osama bin Laden a 'terrorist,' yet will appear on Al-Jazeera describing him as 'Sheikh Osama.'..."

Share this Report: