Propaganda against Saudi Arabia

Propaganda against Saudi Arabia

Saudi officials and intellectuals complain about western press’ negative coverage of Saudi Arabia. Almost every regional event or a crisis pushes Saudi Arabia to headlines with negative connotations. This is not only limited to issues related to governmental or political matters, but it has extended to Saudi culture as well. One can’t overlook western media’s endless efforts to link terrorists’ ideology to the reformer Mohammed bin Abdulwahab, therefore “Wahabism” has become a common term in almost all news stories or articles related to terrorism.
Western media may claim they only present the reality of events or issues; be it positive or negative, but that is totally wrong given the bias they demonstrate in their reports and analyses. A critical reading of most of what is being published in the western press suggests that distortion of Saudi society is not limited to the issue of modernization; human rights, political participation or female empowerment. One would expect such distortion and misinformation only in totalitarian regimes’ media.
There are many examples to illustrate the unprofessional treatment of Saudi Arabia by the western press. The Independent titled its editorial on Jan. 28 “Saudi Arabia deserves its appalling international reputation and no amount of PR skill will change that.” The newspaper spared no word for chicanery and exaggeration to paint a very negative image about Saudi Arabia.
The other example is an article in The Huffington Post by Seyed Hossein Mousavian, former Director of Foreign Affairs in Iran National Security Council. He argued against the execution of the terrorist, Nimr Al-Nimr. He continued his distortion of facts in writing about Saudi internal affairs and positions on regional issues. I am not surprised by Mousavian’s attacking Saudi Arabia. He is just another Iranian official who is desperate to defend his country's evil designs. This article should be seen within the overall context of his attempts to improve Iran’s image in an effort to bridge the gap in its relationship with the West in general, and the US in particular; he was a member of the Iranian team for the nuclear negotiations. It seems he has difficulty finding positive things to say about Iran, and has found in attacking Saudi Arabia the shortest and easiest way to become famous. This is a very well-known public relation tactic: Negative campaign.
Remarkably, The Huffington Post ignored the fact that he was Iran’s ambassador to Germany and was expelled after a German court concluded that Iranian government was behind the murder of four of its citizens in Berlin in 1992. He was also linked to a money-laundering scandal by an Iranian foundation: Alavi Foundation.
It is a common practice in western media and news agencies to link Saudi Arabia to terrorism. It seems to be a professional requirement to market the news story and ensure its prominent placement. Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times both emphasized San Bernardino shooting suspects’ engagement and marriage in Saudi Arabia. Reuters mentioned Saudi Arabia as the birth place of Istanbul bomber, despite the fact that he had left Saudi Arabia more than 20 years ago. Moreover, The Independent went too far in misinforming its reader by claiming the bomber was a Saudi citizen.
Despite their interest in extremists groups and their terrorist acts, western media outlets have ignored an important report from Princeton University on terrorist acts in the US from 1980 to 2005. According to this report, based on FBI data, most (94 percent) terrorist attacks on US soil are carried out by non-Muslims: 42 percent Latino; 24 percent extreme left-wing groups; 7 percent Jewish extremists; 6 percent Muslim extremists; 5 percent Communists; 16 percent by others.
Needless to say that most of what has been written about Saudi Arabia is based on myths. The western media ignore what Saudi Arabia has been doing to counter terrorism locally, regionally and internationally.

• The writer is a professor at the Mass Communications Department at King Saud University.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view