The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Media curtain blinds Americans from imperial war against Middle East

Courtesy Carl Robinette

A truly democratic nation must rely on journalism to provide accurate information to its citizens so they can make decisions and analysis based on fact, not on sensational hype or rumor. In the globalized world we live in today, where technology allows the spread of information to have more transnational impact, an accurate and fair media is crucial to the stabilization and progress of the human race.

In the case of the “Arab Spring,” a succession of violent uprisings in the Middle East (with the exception of the primarily peaceful regime change in Tunisia), mainstream media outlets from both the West and the Middle East failed to provide the Arab people and the rest of the world with truly accurate, un-biased reporting. This undermines peaceful efforts for change and distracts the world from human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel. Whether purposeful or not, the media have played the role of propagandists for NATO, Israel, and some Arab governments who do not care about the plight of people, but are engaging in an imperial war for power and gain.

Honey Al-Sayed, host of Al-Madina radio in Syria and a Middle Eastern media ambassador to the U.S., was present in Damascus since the violence began in other parts of the country and left to Kuwait after the violence reached the Syrian capitol.

Al-Sayed is not a hard news journalist and her show, rated number one is Syria, is mostly centered on entertainment, popular culture and lifestyle. However, she expects news media to follow a strict ethical integrity, especially when reporting in a time of crisis, but feels that media have done a poor job in giving Syrians and the world the truth.

“You’re not supposed to be biased,” Al-Sayed said. “You’re supposed to be telling the truth, not falsifying the truth.”

Al-Sayed said that some foreign and Arab media have been actively agitating the Syrian people to violently revolt.

“What they did is they caused more bloodshed,” Al-Sayed said. “When you repeatedly bring out shots of a lot of bloody events… and you add to it a little bit of drama and exaggeration, you push more people to want to take revenge. It’s as if they [media] are saying, ‘go in the streets, look what your government is doing to you’ instead of simply stating the truth.”

Covering only opposition efforts against the Syrian government’s tanks oversimplifies the Syrian conflict to that of one between an evil regime and innocent protestors fighting for democracy. In reality, the opposition is fragmented between peaceful protestors, armed gangs, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various religious sects with no cohesion for a new vision for the country.
Lynn El-Boukhari, 24, who lives in Damascus and has no connection to the media, said she does not trust the local Arab or international media because they have not presented the reality of Syria.

“They’re all broadcasting the situation in Syria according to their own opinions, no matter what the truth is,” Boukhari said through Facebook. “Only God knows the truth, but what I’m sure about is that there are terrorists in Syria and there is killing by the Syrian army… but no one knows who they’re killing and under what conditions.”
Boukhari’s personal knowledge as a citizen undermines the foreign media’s demonization of president Bashar Al-Assad as a detached, ruthless dictator who has an evil agenda to destroy his own country.

“I know that there’s an order by the president to only shoot armed people, but not a fatal shot,” said Boukhari. “I know many guys who have been arrested during demonstrations and some more than once, stayed in custody for a week or two and then were released and unharmed. And later, some have met the president Bashar Assad and again, no one hurt them. The president knew they were out on demonstrations against him.”

Why both Arab and Western media have been playing the devil’s advocate in the Middle East is a complicated question and almost no one is willing to answer it. What is happening in Syria is similar to what happened in Libya, where NATO forces and NATO-backed rebels were able to invade and destroy an entire country with the help of the media’s false reporting and omission of facts.

Lizzie Phelan, an independent journalist from the United Kingdom, spoke at the United Nations last August about what she saw in Libya when Tripoli fell to rebels. In a Youtube video documenting her speech in August, Phelan explained how the media never showed the fight of the Libyans to protect their country from NATO and their allegiance to their leader, Moammar Gaddafi.

“This has been an incredible media war leading to the criminalization of the Libyan government and Gaddafi,” Phelan said. “The media said there were thousands of people waiting to be killed in Benghazi, but they never showed us any evidence. They said that 6,000 people were killed by the government—human rights organizations have confirmed that approximately 250 have died from both sides. They said that the Libyan government were attacking the people from the air and Russian satellite intelligence has shown us that this was impossible.

“Instead we saw videos of Black Libyans and other Black Africans being lynched in public squares by NATO’s ground troops, the rebels, with scores of people filming on their mobile phones and western special forces looking on.”

Perhaps the most disturbing betrayal of journalistic ethics has been committed by Al Jazeera, the most popular Middle Eastern news Web site and broadcast channel in the Arab and Western world. Phelan criticized Al Jazeera’s coverage of the conquering of Libya and the coverage of Syria as ridiculously unethical.

“The spectacular U-turn from Al Jazeera, being a somewhat critical voice of imperialism’s wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, to being an open facilitator against Libya, Syria and even now the progressive nations of Latin America was perhaps the greatest propaganda trick I have seen in my lifetime,” Phelan said.

This turnabout from Al Jazeera may be because Qatar, a small but powerful Arab League country, owns the news network. According to a New York Times story published yesterday, “Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, became the first Arab leader to propose military intervention to halt the killing in Syria.” Qatar’s government also sent aircraft and special forces to Libya, aiding in the demise of the Gaddafi government.

Phelan recently spent time in Syria working on a documentary. In a video interview with the New York Times, Phelan explained that a similar NATO war is also taking place there, hidden under the illusion of “revolution” put out by the media. Phelan wrote out her full answers to the NY Times’ questions on Black Star News’ website.

“This documentary will actually expose how if it was not for such media, the crisis in Syria would have been over before it started and the people of Syria would be living in peace now,” Phelan wrote. “The difference with journalists from mainstream media in NATO and GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries is that they come with an agenda, and that agenda is to cover what they call is a “revolution” happening inside Syria and to give substance to the false claims that the Syrian government is a threat to the Syrian people.”

The mainstream media has hijacked the story of the Arab people and has put innocent lives in danger. Mainstream media have sensationalized and romanticized the conflicts in Libya, Egypt and Syria, distracting international attention from the brutal massacres which continue to take place in Bahrain, Yemen and Palestine.

“No one cares anymore if the president stays or steps down,” Boukhari said. “It’s a matter of who wins the argument and who gets the cake.”

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