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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Is Coverage of Arabs, Islam Good? Western Media Under Scrutiny

What is the media agenda? Why do some stories get covered and others covered up? On May 1, 2005 The Times of London published confidential minutes of a July 23, 2002 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet members showing that Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush secretly agreed to wage war on Iraq for "regime change" nearly a year before their invasion of the country. British and U.S. officials insisted for months after that they had no plans to invade. Why weren't U.S. media more probing all along? The Washington Post reported in April 2003 that the Pentagon had no plans to count civilian casualties in Iraq. Did U.S. media react negatively? No. Why not? Had dismembered Iraqi civilians been printed on playing cards like the Iraqi leadership's "Most Wanted List" that was all the rage at the start of the war, would they have received more attention? Don't we all know the number of victims from the horrible terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field where one of the planes crashed on that fateful day? Are the lives of innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine worth less? Did reporters ask questions of officials like: "Why did the U.S. edit the 12,000-page Iraqi weapons report to the U.N. Security Council removing all names of U.S. firms that had previously sold weapons materials to Iraq in the past?" While media in the Muslim and Arab worlds have opposed the war in Iraq and in other Muslim countries, their reports and editorial lines can hardly be viewed as monolithic. It is important to understand the nuanced handling of news coming from these sources. Because of their reticence, or outright criticism of the Iraq war, channels like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya came under attack by U.S. officials and their neoconservative supporters. The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority and the subsequent Iraqi Governing Council had temporarily shut down Al Jazeera's bureau as punishment. Is Coverage of Arabs, Islam Good? Western Media Under Scrutiny Magda Abu-FAdil


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