The sins of Al Jazeera

I do not deny that many of the opponents of former President Hosni Mubarak considered Al Jazeera a means to express their oppsoition against the regime over the past decade. Rejecting the inheritance plan for his sons, Alaa and Gamal, condemning violations by security forces and other issues were all tackled on the channel.

Although the same could be said of other privately-owned Egyptian channels, Al Jazeera became the go-to channel for opposition figures during the latter days of despotic regimes like Mubarak, Ben Ali and Qaddafi.

Al Jazeera also sided with the 25 January revolution. We turned a blind eye to its incendiary tone and unprofessional coverage then simply because it suited our politics then.

Renowned political analyst Hany Raslan said that Al Jazeera announced during the revolution that a rally of 30,000 demonstrators had been held in his hometown, Qena, but then his son – who was part of the rally – told him no more than 500 people had marched.

Then Al Jazeera morphed from a channel with a minimum degree of professionalism to a channel of incitement. It liked to call itself a revolutionary broadcaster, despite the fact it is broadcast from the mini-state of Qatar, which hosts U.S. military bases, lives on vast oil and gas fortunes and is ruled by a tribal monarchy that consistently fails to yield to revolution or democracy.

The channel that worked to overthrow Mubarak has also worked to keep Morsy in power, however possible. Its blatant bias towards terrorism and violence became most evident through its fabricated documentaries that aimed to forment hatred for the army, the state and its people.

"At Dawn" is one such malicious documentary that talked about innocent victims who were killed during a confrontation with the army outside the Republican Guard headquarters. It compared this to other incidents where demonstrators were handled in a peaceful way, but neglected to say that demonstrators then did not carry arms or indeed fire on security forces.

Al Jazeera was the only channel that kept playing videos of civilian victims in front of the Republican Guard House from 5:30 am in the morning, without showing a single video of those who opened fire on the army and the police.

We need an independent fact-finding commission to tell us what happened that day so that we are not get blackmailed by Al Jazeera or any other channel for that matter.

I saw a split screen where the Al Jazeera English correspondent was talking about something that had nothing to do with the images shown on the other half of the screen – about injured in the Rabea al-Adaweya field hospital, as if the objective was to win the sympathy from the West, even by rigging the truth.

The channel did not comment on the human rights reports about the Brotherhood exploiting children in demonstrations, and about many other crimes.

It is strange that Al Jazeera took up the mantle of the revolution in Mubarak era but then the mantle of the Brotherhood – or perhaps I should say the mantle of sabotage and conspiracy that wants Egypt to become another Syria, Iraq or Libya – opening up the door to foreign intervention.

Although I have never boycotted any channel that I took issue with, I decided to boycott Al Jazeera on 30 June.

It's time to come up with a new media disourse – the current one is getting old.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

Amr El Shobaky is the head of the Arab European unit in Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. His list of publications includes 30 books and pamphlets, he also published a number of research papers in periodicals in Arabic, French and English. Shobaky's articles deal with Arab and Egyptian political systems, as well as Islamic political movements. He writes for Al-Masry Al-Youm, Al-Ahram, Al-Ahram Strategic Periodical, Al-Hayat (London), Al-Khalij (UAE), Al-Bayan (UAE), Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), Le Figaro (France).

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