Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dr Mamoun Fandy

Dr. Mamoun Fandy, a long-time writer in Middle Eastern media, analyzes the Arab media in his new book, "(Un)Civil War of Words: Media and Politics in the Arab World," reviewed by MEMRI
"[Dr. Fandy] points out that anti-American rhetoric is almost universal in Arab news coverage – not only in countries like Syria, which are openly hostile to the U.S., but also in countries allied with it, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. There are several reasons for this, he says: One is that antagonism towards the U.S. is shared by nearly all sectors of Arab society. The nationalists resent the U.S. for undermining Saddam Hussein's Ba'th regime; the Islamists hate it for promoting Western values and for fighting the Taliban and bin Laden; and the ruling elites in the Arab countries resent it for pushing reform and democratization, which threaten their power. Since anti-American is common to all these rival forces, it is not surprising that it percolates into society at large.

"In addition, the Arab regimes use anti-American rhetoric to deflect the blame for their own failures. In other words, they blame "colonialism" or the "imperialist West" for the problems of Arab society, as a way to avoid taking responsibility for them.

"Finally, Fandy points out that the journalists themselves tend to favor reports critical of the U.S., since they are easy to write and are also sure to pass regime censorship – unlike criticism of the regime. In other words, criticizing the U.S. is always a safe and easy option for Arab journalists.

"Fandy concludes that, given all this, anti-Americanism should not be expected to vanish from the Arab media any time soon.

In other words, Arab media is driven by its prejudices. In a 2004 article in the Washington Post, Dr. Fandy gave an example of the form anti-Americanism takes in the Arab media:
"In a search for answers about the Arab media's approach, I went directly to Abdul Rahman Rashed, the head of al-Arabiya, and asked him why most Arab commentators remain silent about these horrific acts of violence and why his channel and al-Jazeera give so much airtime to the terrorists.

"Rashed blames both contemporary Arab culture and the culture of Arab newsrooms. He offered two examples -- one from print and the other from TV -- to make his point. He told me that last year, when he was still chief editor of the pan-Arab daily newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat (for which I am a columnist), he caught one of his editors changing the caption of an AP photo from "an American soldier chatting with an Iraqi girl" to "an American soldier asking an Iraqi girl for sex." "If I had not caught him, it would have gone to print this way," he said."



Blogger Tom the Redhunter said...

Right, anti-American and anti-Jewish propaganda is endemic throughout the Muslim and Arab world.

I'd like to slough it off and say "they're just that way", but the fact is that it matters. Walid Phares, in his book "The War of Ideas" has it right. We either win the war of ideas and propaganda or we lose to the caliphate.

Unfortunately this is an area where the Bush Administration has been asleep at the wheel.

Mon Mar 24, 01:52:00 PM 2008  

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