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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Blocking of Syrian television is justified

Arabic language editorials also comment on Egyptian election and Iran's influence in Iraq.

Arabsat and Nilesat must cooperate with Arab League and block 'deceptive' Syrian channels

Arab League foreign ministers, meeting in Doha last weekend, demanded that the two main Arab satellite TV providers, Arabsat and Nilesat, block all Syrian channels, as a way of further isolating the regime of President Bashar Al Assad, Emirati journalist Ahmed Al Mansouri noted in an opinion article for the Abu Dhabi-based paper Al Ittihad.

Considering how "misleading" Syrian media has been during the uprising that has rocked the country for 16 months, the Arab foreign ministers' plan makes a lot of sense, the writer argued.

"It seems that this demand, which has not yet been implemented, has seriously upset the Syrian regime," he went on.

The National Syrian Media Council was quick to dismiss the Arab decision as "a blatant interference in Syria's internal affairs, an unprecedented assault on the freedom of the media in the Arab world and a brazen attempt to conceal the reality of what is happening in the Syrian territories," the writer reported.

Yet, as anyone who has regularly watched Syrian television in recent months knows, Syrian state media have been doing the job of "professional liars", methodically exercising "deception" and hiding the truth.

"Most of their coverage is basically a reporting of the unchanging rhetoric of Syrian officials: Syria is a target of a conspiracy, and terrorists and armed groups paid by Gulf states are trying to undermine the country's security and stability," he went on.

Syrian pro-regime satellite channels also unleash their anger against Gulf media outlets, particularly Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, accusing both of orchestrating smear campaigns against the regime of President Al Assad.

"What the regime omits to mention is that both channels [also] make sure they host pro-regime officials and commentators in their news bulletins and talk shows to maintain a level of balance.

"This actually bothers their viewers who have got sick of the lies that these pro-regime guests keep repeating.

"On the other hand, the Syrian satellite channels never allow a voice that displeases the regime to come on the air."

Stopping these channels, then, is not only a political pressure tool. It is also an ethical duty on the part of Arab leaders and broadcasters alike, the writer maintained.

"The managers of Arabsat and Nilesat have a moral responsibility here … because the question is no longer about respecting freedom of speech, it's about responding to channels that promote deadly propaganda, which innocent Syrians pay for with their lives."

This is not a case of trying to shut somebody out because you don't like their message. Rather, this is a case of you shutting your own windows to spare your ears an awful message, the writer concluded.

Voting in the run-off is voting for Shafiq

How would you react if you found out, while playing football, that the referee was blatantly biased in favour of the opposing team? Egyptian novelist Alaa Aswany posed this question in the Egyptian daily Al Masry Al Youm.

This is what the Egyptian revolution is facing, he said. The revolution "entrusted the Supreme Council of the Armed Council (Scaf) with administering the transition to achieve the objectives of the revolution and set the stage for a true democracy."

Yet Scaf strongly supported Hosni Mubarak's regime with a view to destroying the revolution and restore Mubarak's cronies to office. They "defamed the revolutionaries … killed hundreds … and cooked up unrest to compel citizens to turn against the revolution." Also, they "pushed Ahmed Shafiq for presidency … and to top it off acquitted Mr Mubarak's sons and aides of former interior minister Habib Al Adly."

Now that this "scheme has been masterfully implemented, Egyptians must choose between a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and Mubarak confidante Ahmed Shafiq."

The biggest mistake Egyptians can make is to think the run-off election is a real choice. The election will definitely be rigged in favour for Shafiq, he claimed, just as the first round was.

Against this blurred backdrop, the writer addresses the Egyptian electorate, if "you go to the polls in the run-off, you are granting Shafiq the presidency."

Shiite fatwas help Iran to dominate Iraq

Here is another Shiite fatwa addressed to the Iraqi people, from a Shiite cleric based in Iran: "Don't vote secular". This is basically just another attempt by pro-Iran clerics to expand the country's already strong influence in Iraq, said Tariq Al Homayed, editor of the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

In a column entitled Is this a fatwa to save Al Maliki?, the editor said that Ayatollah Kazem Al Husseini Al Hairi, a Shiite in Iran, issued this fatwa recently, forbidding Iraqis from voting for any secular candidate at any level of government.

"Some said that this fatwa was meant to bring support to the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, against all the parties seeking to undercut his power," the editor wrote.

"But I think this fatwa goes beyond that. It exposes the Iranian-Khameneian way of thinking … and makes it all the more clear that Iran-aligned Shiite clerics conceive of democracy as halal only if it brings Shiite politicians to power."

Or, at the very least, only if that democracy brings in Sunni elites that are willing to play into Iran's domination game in the region, like the Sunnis of Hamas or some factions within the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, he concluded.

 

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk

translation@thenational.ae