Islamic Republic cannot be reformed. Regime change is the only option for Iran! جمهوری اسلامی اصلاح پذیر نیست

Friday, April 1, 2011

Al Jazeera and Middle East’s Quest for Democracy

Al Jazeera and Middle East’s Quest for Democracy
Dr. Arash Irandoost
February 21, 2011
When Al Jazeera was launched a few years back, it was taken as a good omen and a breath of fresh air, since independent and objective reporting and news from mostly state-run Middle East news media are a rare find.

But, as it continued its broadcast, it was becoming obvious that that Al Jazeera was very sympathetic towards the Palestinian cause. One could initially overlook such a bias considering the total sum of Al Jazeera reporting. When Iraqi situation presented itself, Al Jazeera was notably sympathetic to Iraqi's and hostile towards the Americans, even though Iraq was being ruled by the mother of all dictators, but the eyebrows were not raised yet!

During the Iranian uprising in June of 2009, it was evident whose side Al Jazeera was on, even though it could not ignore it. It resorted to hosting shaky characters like Kaveh Afrasiabi and Sorraya Sepahpour (known for their support of the regime) to down play its magnitude.

During the Egyptian uprising, for those who followed it, Al Jazeera's biased reporting became even more obvious. In an instant, Al Jazeera's chameleons disguised as reporters smelled a wounded animal and sounded more and more like activists rather than credible and objective reporters. Later, it attempted to reign in its activist reporters, perhaps due to pressure and threats from the Saudi's who themselves felt threatened by the Egyptian crises.

Ironically however, as the crises have spread to other countries, Al Jazeera is finding itself in crises of identity and its true colors are fast emerging. Bias is clearly seen as Al Jazeera covers or ignores events in Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Algiers and now Bahrain. This is indeed unfortunate and goes to show that when it comes to support democracy, Al Jazeera has been erected to give it a lip service and continues its own selective and biased reporting as it accuses America or the American media of the same.

Objectivity in the media, much like quest for freedom and democracy is a one way street. It is non-negotiable. You are either for it, or not.

With the advent of the internet, digital technologies, and the social media, real and authentic news indeed travel fast and hard to ignore or slant. Oppressive nations and those who pay lip service to it can no longer ignore or slant the news in their favor. It is time for Al Jazeera to decide. For it to remain credible Al Jazeera needs to remain independent, objective and cannot indeed afford to add fuel to the fire of democracy in one country and attempt squelch it in another.

Perhaps it is time for Al Jazeera and its chameleon activist reporters to take a couple of lessons in democracy and objective reporting. Otherwise, Al Jazeera will find itself in a dead end, much like some of the dictators it pretends not to support.

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