‘Western media biased against Arabs’


Criticism of western media came from both western and Arab journalists and academics.

Lynch, a professor of political science at America’s Williams College,
said: “After 9/11 a lot of Americans were not responding to the Arabic
media, but to what they were being told about the Arabic media.

gap between how Arabs and Americans understand the world is enormous
… We need a real dialogue. Americans need to listen to Arabic media
and vice-versa. We need Americans on Arab media,” he said.

criticism of the western media, the former editor of the Rand Daily
Mail, Allister Sparks, said the Arabic world needed to get its own
house in order first.

“There is a great need in the Middle East
to have greater self-examination. The struggle for human rights begins
at home. From what I hear there is a serious shortage of
self-examination,” he said.

Abdul Bari Atwan, the chief editor of
al-Quds Al Arabi, said: “In the Arabic world there isn’t much freedom.
We do not talk much about domestic issues … if we had, maybe we
wouldn’t be in the situation we are in now.”

Mounir Shafik, the
author, intellectual and former PLO director of planning, argued that
freedom of expression and diversity of voices were greater in Arabic
media than in the west.

“The dominant media in the west is
playing a negative role in terms of building bridges because the margin
of freedom in the western media is very small.

“The majority of
western media do not allow people like me on their screens to build
bridges. We need to give freedom of expression to the western media …
There is a spirit inside the dominant western media that does not
reflect even the ideas of their citizens.”

Some delegates made a
distinction between US and UK media, with a greater diversity of voices
heard in UK publications, but Fahmy Howeidy added: “The distinction
between the US and British press is important but it is the US press
that influences decisions and the whole world.”

And another line
was drawn was between the “dominant” mainstream media and emerging
“alternative” media, which are helping provide a counterbalance but are
unable to break into the mainstream.

“[Western media] has always
bragged when comparing itself to the Russian media but … it should
stop comparing itself with the Soviet Union and start comparing itself
with us,” Mr Shafik said.

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