Al Jazeera: A ‘tragedy’ for Arab media amid soft power failure

Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.
Updated 05 April 2018
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Al Jazeera: A ‘tragedy’ for Arab media amid soft power failure

  • Hopes were high for Al Jazeera when it was launched in 1996
  • Al Jazeera has become a “mouthpiece” for terrorists, says academic
Dubai: Al Jazeera’s “ideological” stance has been a “huge tragedy” for the Arab media industry, which has failed to bring the real Arab perspective to the world stage, a leading academic has said.
Hopes were high for Al Jazeera when it was launched in 1996, but the Qatar-based network has become a “mouthpiece” for terrorists and pursues an “ideological agenda,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.
This has caused “tremendous damage” to the media industry as a whole, the academic said on the sidelines of the Arab Media Forum in Dubai.
“In the 1990s when Al Jazeera started, it was one of the most promising media institutions in the Arab world,” Gerges told Arab News.
“Sadly and tragically after 9/11, Al Jazeera became … a mouthpiece of Osama bin Laden.”
The academic said that the TV network had failed to become a credible media institution or source of information.
“Al Jazeera has sacrificed its institutional rubric on the altar of its ideological agenda,” he said. 
“What has happened to Al Jazeera is a huge tragedy for the Arab media … It is no longer seen by large constituencies of the Arab world as a media forum.
“You turn on Al Jazeera because you agree with Al Jazeera. It has become more and more ideologically tilted toward certain perspectives.”
Gerges said that Al Jazeera and other Arab media institutions had failed in their “soft power” push.
“We had thought that Al Jazeera could really be an institution that makes a huge difference to raise public awareness of the Arab world in terms of democracy, information and debate,” he said. 
“Sadly and tragically, particularly in the past 10 years, Al Jazeera has really done tremendous damage.”
The academic had hope, however, that journalists at media organizations across the region could help portray a real view of the Arab world.
“Arab media has failed to develop soft power influences (on) world public opinion … We have failed to put the Arab agendas, the Arab perspectives on the international stage,” he said. 
“Every journalist, every correspondent, every media person must understand that he or she has a moral professional responsibility not to simplify, not to distort, not to exaggerate.”
Al Jazeera did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.


Malta sends three suspects for trial on charges of killing anti-corruption journalist

Images of Mrs Daphne Caruana Galizia taken during the last national protest against corruption held in front of Castile ( the office of the Prime Minister) in Valletta.
Updated 17 July 2019
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Malta sends three suspects for trial on charges of killing anti-corruption journalist

  • The Council of Europe backed their call in a report last June and said an inquiry should be held within three months

VALETTA: Three men will face trial in Malta for their alleged involvement in the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia after the island’s attorney general issued a bill of indictment against them, court officials said on Tuesday.
The indictment comes days before a deadline that requires suspects who have not been formally committed for trial within 20 months of arrest to be granted bail.
Vincent Muscat and brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio are accused of having planted and set off a bomb that exploded in Caruana Galizia’s car near the Maltese capital Valletta on Oct. 16, 2017. All three suspects have pleaded not guilty during pre-trial proceedings known as the compilation of evidence, held before a magistrate.
It is not known when the trial will start.
The murder of Caruana Galizia, who penned an anti-corruption blog, appalled Europe and raised questions about the rule of law on the Mediterranean island.
Muscat and the Degiorgios were arrested and charged in December 2017 and have been in detention ever since. The courts have turned down repeated requests for bail citing the continuing police investigation and public order.
Maltese police have said their investigations are continuing as the three are not thought to have been the masterminds behind the killing, the motive for which is unknown.
The three suspects have not said a word to police, according to usually well-informed Maltese media.
Evidence presented in court by prosecutors over the last two years has suggested that Caruana Galizia, 53, was blown up by a bomb activated by a mobile phone.
Muscat was allegedly the spotter who watched the journalist drive out of her house in Bidnija, seven miles from Valletta, while one of the Degiorgio brothers is alleged to have set off the bomb by phone while on a yacht in Valletta harbor.
Officers from the US Federal Bureau of Investigations and Europol have helped Malta police investigate the case.
Caruana Galizia’s family has repeatedly called on Malta’s government to hold an independent public inquiry into the murder and into whether the government could have acted to prevent it.
The Council of Europe backed their call in a report last June and said an inquiry should be held within three months.
The government has said that a public inquiry could hinder the continuing police investigations, although the foreign minister has indicated that an inquiry might be held.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, a frequent target of Caruana Galizia’s writings, has offered a million euro ($1.2 million) reward for information leading to the arrest of the culprits.