Sunday, August 8, 2004


In Arabic with English subtitles

Al-Jazeera ("The Island" in Arabic) satellite news station was launched in November 1996 and is the fastest growing television network among Arabic speaking people around the world. Programming is focused primarily on news coverage and analysis by many former employees of the BBC Arab Service. With more than 30 bureaux and dozens of correspondents covering the four corners of the world, Al-Jazeera produces programs that are available world-wide through various satellite and cable systems to 35 million viewers, 24 hours a day.
This so-called “Arab version of CNN” has earned a reputation as an oasis of free speech in a region dominated by government censors. Its intrepid reporting, candid talk and lively documentaries are unlike anything most Arab viewers have ever seen. But it has also attracted the ire of many Arab governments (including Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia) unaccustomed to hearing open criticism.
Al-Jazeera has given millions of people a refreshing new perspective on global events. Officials there say that if the U.S. and Britain object to the opinions they see expressed on the station's programs, they are welcome to equal air time in which to respond. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US Secretary of State Colin Powell have both appeared on the network to express their government’s position of matters of importance.

Hussein Ibrahim, a Qatar-born, Western-educated correspondent for Al-Jazeera who formerly worked for the BBC Arab Service.
Samir Khader, a senior producer at Al-Jazeera
Lt. Josh Rushing, the press liaison officer at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Qatar

By their own admission, they are equally guilty of slanting the news so this film about Al-Jazeera provides us an opportunity to hear and see the “other side of the story”.

For example, one night during the Iraqi war the U.S.A.F. strafed and bombed the Al-Jazeera Baghdad bureau along with the offices of the Ab Dubai television station and the hotel where journalists from several Arab countries were staying. The death of one journalist prompted an apology from the U.S. Armed Forces spokesman who said “they took action in response to being fired upon by people at these targets". Al-Jazeera suggests this military action was because of their anti-American views.

We also told that it was a staged contingent of Iraqi sympathizers who were seen walking in behind the American tanks as they entered Baghdad happily waving the original flag of Iraq (banned since 1991 by Saddam Hussein) that they just “happened to have” with them. When later interviewed by Al-Jazeera it was apparent these men were not from Baghdad at all but Kurds trucked in from the U.S.A.-friendly northern part of the country.

It is interesting to hear Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld saying that the Al-Jazeera network is willing to distort the truth, to disseminate misinformation to make its case and they will continue to do so until they are caught in a blatant lie. The pot calling the kettle black?

for war violence, brief language.

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