Huffington Post's newly launched Arabic website is having some growing pains.
Arabs were quick to criticize the news outlet that quickly seemed to fall into conservative categories typical of Arabic media; many were disappointed with what it became. The few articles Arabic speakers picked up effectively transformed the new Arabic outlet's image into everything Huffington Post is not.
An example? The website recently published an op-ed against selfies, describing them as symptoms of “the viruses of the Western world,” BuzzFeed reported.
The English parent company picked up on the difference in values; the homophobic article that sparked outrage on social media was deleted shortly afterward.
Some say it's the leadership for the Arabic site that was the wrong move. HuffPost Arabi's Wadah Khanfar was the former director general of al-Jazeera Network, the Qatar-owned channel known for having biases toward Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
#Huffington Post Arabic is the new shameless counter of MB & Islamist, more credible to change the name to Huff Post Islamists— Om Habib (@omhabib50) August 8, 2015
But some challenged claims the site had an ultraconservative Islamic agenda, and said opposing viewpoints just opened up channels for dialogue.
The notion that Huff Po Arabic needs to be a vehicle for 'progressive politics', whatever that means, runs against the need for debate now.— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) August 10, 2015
It's not the first time HuffPost faces criticism for falling on the wrong end of the political spectrum. Ironically, the US company typically gets flack for invalidating conservative opinions. HuffPost recently sparked debate with its controversial move to post all Donald Trump coverage in the "entertainment" section instead of "news," despite the fact that the man is leading in GOP polls as a popular presidential candidate.
When HuffPost Arabi launched, Khanfar's statement seemed to want diversity in its content and wrote: "The Arab media is in dire need of diversity and credibility. We commit to these principles through our editorial policies, carried out by our team of professionals hailing from a range of backgrounds and experiences."
Whether he’ll put that into practice is the question.
Saw that no women are writing op-eds for Arabic Huffpost but turns out there's one, on marriage! how classy of them— Nour M. Nemr (@nnemr) August 10, 2015
Regardless of where you stand, it's pretty safe to agree HuffPost Arabi's goals should be to include diverse perspectives. That includes, of course, liberal ones.
By Hayat Norimine
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