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In the Newsroom

December 31, 2009
Iran protest coverage reflects spectrum of Arab media bias

A screenshot of Al Arabiya’s homepage showing Iran protesters.

Worldfocus’ Mohammad al-Kassim writes about bias in the Arab media’s depiction of events in Iran.

The post-presidential election demonstrations in Iran have been closely monitored by U.S. and Western media outlets, and the coverage is sympathetic with the reform movement.

But the coverage in the Middle East — especially the Gulf region — is conflicted.

Middle Eastern news outlets’ coverage of the events in Iran generally reflects the political ideology of the companies’ owners.

The Arabic-language satellite channel Al Jazeera, which is owned by the Qatari government, is the most influential channel in the Arab world — with an average of 45 million daily viewers. Al Jazeera continues to operate from Iran because of its favorable coverage of re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Qatari government is Iran’s only ally in the Gulf.

Al Jazeera’s main rival satellite channel is Al Arabiya, which is based in Dubai and partly owned by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Al Arabiya has been very aggressive in its coverage of events in Iran, which led to its ban on reporting from there and the closing of its offices by the Iranian government

In Lebanon, the pro-Iran Hezbollah news web site Al-Manar is clearly in support of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government. On its website, it reported on remarks made by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during which the Iranian supreme spiritual leader said that the protesters were a tool of the West and that opposition leaders were responsible for Iran’s problems.

Al-Manar also reported positively on the tens of thousands of government supporters who turned out for state-sponsored rallies.

Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic newspaper based in London, reported that Iran’s Foreign Minister said yesterday that if Britain doesn’t stop its support of the demonstrators, “it will be slapped on the mouth.”

That quote was the paper’s headline.

We can expect more of the same in the coming months, as Arab media organizations vie for political influence.

– Mohamad al-Kassim

For more, view our Voices of Iran extended coverage page and listen to our online radio show on Baha’i faith and modern Iran.

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Comments

2 comments

#2

Weather be Islamic Theocracy or Khalifah it makes no difference cause in the end just look at Iran
in how the IRANIAN REGIME ..has out eclipses the
SHAH OF IRAN in their Violent behavior to their own people atrocities in trails, hunging. unjust election ! Individuals right gone by the way-side
women rights as will ! weighty & suffocating !

#1

Under Islam one does not see or say anything against a fellow Muslim.Be it nation or person to do so is you being inflence by the Devil. If Iran wants to really want to stop the protester it can always shut off the cell towers. Close down all press operations. Take away all cell phones. The government should crack down onthe students by hanging a few of them from city lamp poles. It would of happen 20 years ago, why not today? These are radicial liberal students who want those things of the evil West. It should also remove all things that can be tied to the West, anything not produced in Iran should be ban. Have a dress code that puts people into only Iranian garments. Maybe those in the Iranian government should think what the Prophet would have allow and not what the West allows.

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