Monday, March 26, 2012

Ali Hashem on the Real News Network



Earlier this month, I wrote about media censorship in Syria, and brought up a report by al-Akhbar English that the head of al-Jazeera Arabic's Beirut bureau, Ali Hashem, had resigned in protest over the channels editorial dictates on Syria and Bahrain.

Mr. Hashem has now begun to speak out himself, and last week Paul Jay at the Real News Network conducted a three part interview with him.  Also newsworthy is the fact that Mr. Hashem's resignation has not been touched upon by any U.S. mainstream media, and was only briefly mentioned in the British Guardian.  While venues like the The Real News Network and RT are covering his story, it is being blackballed in the major press.


More at The Real News

 Some good excerpts after the jump.

On Syria:
"But what happened is that—you know, I'm not sourcing or quoting; I just saw with my eyes, and it was in the beginning of the revolution, it was just, like, one month and a half from the revolution. And things were—you know, I was seeing a lot of weapons, people with RPGs, people with Kalashnikovs, you know, just crossing from the borders. And they were not one or two; they were a big number; they were just dominating the whole village that we were on the borders with. So, you know, the militarization of the revolution started early.

On al-Jazeera's refusal to publish his reports from Syria:
You know, actually, this was the main issue that I had, you know, a problem with, because it's really a problem of credibility. Whenever you have your own footage and you are your channel's eyes in that area, and the channel is refusing to, you know, air such pictures, then, you know, you should have some question marks, you should raise some question marks.
You know, I'm not coming—I didn't come to Al Jazeera, you know, as an amateur. I'm a professional. I used to work for the BBC before, for four or five years with the BBC. And then, you know, there is a kind of—things we learn over there about the credibility, our objectivity, being unbiased.

On the Qatari government's ownership of al-Jazeera:
But the problem, it's not in the journalists, it's not in even the executives in Al Jazeera. It's not a problem with Al Jazeera. It's the problem with those who are really financing Al Jazeera, which are the Qataris.
You know, today the Qataris are kind of committing—you know, they are taking Al Jazeera to commit suicide, they're forcing Al Jazeera to commit suicide. Al Jazeera was kind of respected by everyone. Even Al Jazeera went with two or three languages. And everyone was watching Al Jazeera, because they really believed that Al Jazeera is doing good journalism. Today it's a big problem right now. Wherever you go around the Arab world, everyone is questioning the credibility of Al Jazeera, they're questioning the agenda Al Jazeera is working with or it's working for. Today, it's not anymore that Al Jazeera is doing journalism for journalism; today, journalism is being used for politics.

On Libya:
It was clear that Al Jazeera was adopting the rebels' stance. It was going strongly behind them so that they, you know, prevail at the end.
Then the Qatari—or here the Qatari agenda was clear. Actually, going day after day, it was clear that the Qataris were really taking it as a personal issue with Gaddafi and they want him to fall...
But at the end we were dealt with by the rebels over there as heroes, you know, because we were Al Jazeera that is really owned by Qatar, Qatar, which is taking those stances that are really kind of supportive of the NATO strikes and supportive of the rebels, giving arms to the rebels. So that was really clear that we were doing media warfare.
As for me, I was trying my best, and that was clear on air—that may—gave me a lot of problems with people on the ground, that I was trying my best to be unbiased and giving the picture as it is. But the problem is, you know, in general the channel was taking this route or this path. And I wouldn't lie and say I wasn't happy with that. That was okay. You know, everyone was kind of Gaddafi should fall, and that was normal for anyone. Actually, I wrote that in the newspaper, that, you know, we felt like it's okay that Gaddafi should fell.
But after that, everyone started, you know, thinking: and so—and after that, what is going to happen? Now that journalism is laid aside, what are we going to do now? Is it—it's kind of politicization of media, and now we are working for political agendas, rather than working for journalistic—or for, you know, a media outlet.

On the motivation for the Arab uprisings, and the actions of the Western powers:
My own point of view in this regard, regarding even the Syrian, the Libyan, all the revolutions that took place in the Arab world, they're not set up, you know, they're not staged revolutions. Those revolutions were because—there are reasons for such revolutions. In each country there is a reason. There is a tyrant, there is a dictatorship, there are, you know, regimes that are really very old. And that's why people are revoluting. It's not because those people are really being pushed by outside to revolt
But, you know, people—you know, whenever you have enemies, then you should take in consideration that your enemy is going to make use of any revolution against you. So you are not going to expect that enemies of Gaddafi or al-Assad will stay, you know, calm when they're seeing their enemy falling down or, you know, at least someone who is standing for him. They—that is for sure they're going to support them.

On the militarization of the Libyan situation:
Actually, in Libya, the beginning of the revolution and the real start of the revolution is when the rebels, or, let's say, the activists, at that time, occupied the barracks in Benghazi, and they went inside and took all the weapons. And then it started. Then everyone had weapons and everyone was kind of, you know, fighting from that time. 
So—and then it was clear that every—the French were really pushing into the militarization of the revolution. Then you have the United Nations Security Council resolution. So it was kind of—there was—the international community had a consensus over militarization of the revolution in Libya.

On Bahrain:
But, you know, given that this regime is a Sunni regime and those who are doing the revolution are Shia, then it seems like they're not allowed to have a voice on air. So the Bahraini revolution was muted by—it's not only Al Jazeera; most of the Arab channels muted the Bahraini revolution.

On the difference between al-Jazeera English and Al-Jazeera Arabic's coverage of Bahrain:
Actually, the main coverage of al-Bahrain was by Al Jazeera English and not Al Jazeera Arabic. Al Jazeera English really—the guys over there made a great work, this documentary. It was really a very strong documentary documenting what's really going on. Actually, they had several reporters, you know, who were kind of secret, doing secret reporting from Bahrain, and there they were really sacrificing their own security for the sake of their own career and their own—of really good journalism.
But the problem is the Arabic Al Jazeera wasn't really doing that much for al-Bahrain. It was like, there is something going on in the country and we shouldn't say anything about it.

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