Is Al Jazeera kowtowing to the government? The Qatari link exposed

Published December 27th, 2012 - 01:23 GMT
Al Jazeera news network comes under scrutiny
Al Jazeera news network comes under scrutiny

An interview with Deutsche Welle has exposed what could be a questionable Qatari agenda visited upon the much-revered pan-Arab news network, Al Jazeera.  A correspondent in Berlin, Aktham Suliman, resigned from the Doha based news channel, purportedly due to the Qatari government's alleged influence over the channel's reporting, according to the interview with the German news station. If such an agenda were at play, this revelation calls into question the quality journalism we've all come to expect from the global news network AJ.

"It's possible that it does have an agenda, but of course no one makes it clear. The thing is that, if you're professional, you can deal with an agenda. If the employees, the editors or the owners had one and tried to impose it, professionalism would ensure that this didn't happen at the cost of high quality journalistic product," Suliman who spent a good ten-year stint reporting for AJ for ten years told DW, according to the German website's reportage of the interview.

The ex-employee went on to spell out the link he alleges between the state and the media: "But that's precisely what didn't happen when efforts were obviously being made to impose on Al Jazeera the agenda of the state of Qatar. The problem is that the organisation lacks internal structures that would immunize it against what was presumably an attempt by the owner or by the editors to interfere politically in things that should have been handled in a journalistic manner."

Suliman cites the conflict in Libya leading to the downfall of Colonel Gaddafi who ruled the North African country with his iron fist for 42 years to illustrate his charge of 'influence'.

"Of course Muammar Gaddafi was a dictator, and of course he'd ruled for far too long. Of course there was a desire among the Libyans to get rid of him. All that is clear," Suliman said. However he is concerned that the unlawful killing of the dictator was not called out.

"But it's also clear that killing a dictator, as happened with Gaddafi, is absolutely unacceptable on human rights grounds, revolution or no. And that's not emphasised. 

He added: "What should also give us pause for thought is that it wasn't just Gaddafi who was killed. Many others were killed after him - including, incidentally, the man who shot Qaddafi. He was killed by another group of revolutionaries. That's the actual environment in Libya. And that's exactly what you don't see on today's Al Jazeera. That's not professional."

Suliman is bold enough to point the finger at Qatar for responsiblity for these omissions. Syria is next on his grievance lists  - as suffering from the dubious journalistic cover and suspect professional credibility. 

The reporter claims that the two-year slaughter of over 40,000 lives in Syria  is another example of inbalanced reportage.

"There are murders, injustices and good things on both sides. But you don't see that on Al Jazeera. My problem is and was: When I see Al Jazeera's Syrian coverage, I don't really understand what's going on there. And that's the first thing I expect from journalism."


Have your say: Do you think a few resignations and some interviews are enough to make a case against the global revered news network? Is Al Jazeera suffering state interference? Or are the journalists professional enough to handle state-pressures?



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