x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Arabic newspaper editorial criticises Syrian aggression

Papers also discuss the graphic images on news channels, the Muslim Brotherhood and the "Oriental Man"

Syrian diplomat's words ring hollow

"It is hard to imagine how the Syrian minister of foreign affairs Walid al Muallam could blame Arab countries, at the Qatari ambassador's residence in Damascus, for not standing by Syria," observed Tare Al Homayed in a leader article for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

"According al Muallam, Arabs failed to condemn sanctions imposed by the West against the Syrian regime."

It is strange to hear Syrians criticising other Arabs, who have remained silent towards the brutal repression undertaken by the regime on their own people. So far, the number of deaths, including children, has exceeded a thousand, while those missing and detained number in the thousands.

The Arab ambassadors, who should have strongly criticised al Muallam's remarks, merely "protested". They are required to take a firm stance against any statements by Syrian officials criticising their countries, which are being accused of conspiracy.

The concerned Arab ambassadors of Qatar, Saudi Arabia Jordan and Lebanon should have rejected the remarks made by al Muallam, and issued warnings that the regime must stop its repressive policy. Also, it would have been pertinent to remind him of Syria's support of the revolution in Egypt after Hosni Mubarak's fall. It makes no sense to label Syrian protesters as traitors at a time when they demand their own change.

Broadcasting graphic images harms youth

Today's public continues to receive an unprecedented volume of information thanks to the advance in telecommunications technology. And yet this boon has been deeply abused, noted the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh.

This is increasingly more conspicuous in the way Arab television channels report news from around the world. In their efforts to retain the attention of their audiences, they often end up violating broadcasting ethics by showing unedited pictures straight from hot sites. This is done without observing professional standards, or regard to sensitivities towards scenes of excessive violence. Some channels even claim these as scoops.

Problems arise when young children and teenagers are exposed to these images. Given their age, they may be less able to evaluate the media intake, especially the horrific pictures of shootings and other forms of violence being inflicted on others. It is also possible they may later interpret such acts of violence as normal.

In contrast to Arab media, other countries have a well-established tradition of posting warnings to viewers before broadcasting scenes that may be deemed to graphic for some, especially children. The same applies to films and other entertainment, which are certified accordingly.

Arab media should follow suit and abide by ethics and standards to protect the region's youth.

Muslim Brotherhood not interested in ruling

"Why didn't the Muslim Brotherhood appoint a candidate for the presidency soon after the triumph of the Egyptian revolution?" asked Maamoun Fandi, a columnist with the pan-Arab Asharq al Awsat newspaper.

In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohammed Badie, warned that any member of his group would face dismissal should he make the bid for the presidency. But why?

"Well, to become the president of Egypt entails a whole lot of domestic and foreign responsibilities. For instance, any prospective Egyptian president will have to meet with Israel's prime minister in the spirit of the peace treaty signed between the two countries. The Muslim Brotherhood prefer to stay in a position where they can criticise this treaty, eyeing an ethical edge … and a photogenic image."

In other words, it is easier to be in the shoes of a detractor than assume the major political and social responsibilities that come with the presidency of a country like Egypt. For as long as they have existed, the Muslim Brotherhood have sat on the opposition benches, making it hard to assess their actual planning and governing skills, if they have any.

"The Muslim Brotherhood may be used to putting spokes into wheels, but riding a wheel and staying on top of it as you go along may require some serious preparation."

Seeking the real 'Oriental Man'

"Who is the 'Oriental Man' in this global village era?" asked Khalil Ali Haidar, a Kuwaiti writer, in the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.

A few years ago, the Egyptian female author Azza Haikal published a book in Arabic entitled Emancipating Men. The title predictably raised eyebrows, especially since it came soon after the centenary of Emancipating Women (1899), the celebrated magnum opus of the Egyptian male scholar Qassim Amin, considered the first Arabic feminist essay in the modern era.

Whereas the thrust of Amin's argument was that Arab women must break out of their male-imposed domestic seclusion, Haikal in her essay compelled Arab men to liberate themselves from the grip of "politicised Islamic thought".

In the same vein, an academic report published in the media lately found that the idea of an over-achieving "oriental man" and the "too-smart-to-marry Arab woman" are entrenched in Arab society; the man is supposed to always outperform the woman.

Yet, in the same report, a host of successful, emancipated female Lebanese artistes interviewed said they have "no issue with the oriental man" and are "against the premise of gender equality".

The question remains: who is this "oriental man" whom Arab folklore celebrates?

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk