Moroccan are mystified to the reasons behind Al-Jazeera’s lack of interest in the sad and moving story of Mr. Ould Sidi Mouloud, while the JNC news team has lead some of their newscast stories with anti-Moroccan activities in the Western Sahara and Algeria. Moroccans are mad and furious are JNC lack of objectivity in covering human rights in Moroccan and Algeria, and the channels’ clear favoritism to the Algerian position on the Sahara conflict.
The Moroccan viewer is wondering why JNC did not show footage of Ould Sidi Mouloud eighty year old father leaving a Washington DC hospital after a health scare during a visit to the United States Congress to lobby for the release of his son. Moroccans, like other Arab viewers are starting to see through Al-Jazeera’s screaming programs and theatrical discussions.
Moroccans of all ages are appalled with JNC disinterest in investigating Algeria’s role in keeping the Western Sahara unsettled and the lack of human rights and freedom of speech in the refugee camps in Tindouf.
Without a doubt, the Qatari based Al-Jazeera news channel (JNC) has revolutionized the Arab media world. By far the most popular news channel in the Middle East, JNC was the first news channel to have full time journalists working in major word capitals bringing breaking news live and with an Arabic and Muslim perspective. JNC is also credited with opening its microphones to Arab and Muslim renegades, banned opposition figures and other anti-establishment figures.
JNC became a worldwide phenomenon in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. The Qatari news channel has been Ben Laden’s favorite method of communicating with the world. Similarly, JNC has been the Taliban’ preferred vehicle to issue press releases.
Al-Jazeera’s broke several political taboos in the conservative and restricted world of the Arab press. From interviews with leaders of groups branded as terrorist to leaders of divisive groups within the Arab and Muslim world. When JNC came into the Arab scene, millions of Arab viewers fled their dreadful local and national channels for the daring Doha based news leader. Since its spring, Al-Jazeera has broken several major stories, it become in the process a source of news for its proponents and detractors alike.
Complains about JNC and its coverage are frequent and as strange and divers in source and nature. From high-ranking US officials to Russian politicians, Al-Jazeera was a subject to verbal attacks because of its cozy relations with notorious groups.
If JNC is the Arab’s number one source of news, the Arab public does not unanimously like it. As expected Arab, governments and ruler were furious and disturbed by the “independence” and the “courage” of Al-Jazeera’s coverage. Arab governments that have mastered the art of muzzling a free press used every chance to criticize the news channel.
Like any news channel in the world, the editorial and news teams decide what stories to run, and how to lead them. The American Fox News and CNN do it, so does JNC. By picking and choosing what to cover and how, a news channel set a schema that inadvertently becomes an agenda. If Fox News has a conservative agenda and MSNBC (an American all news channel) have one, Al-Jazeera has a country-by-country a la carte agenda.
Moroccans have a hate love relationship with Al-Jazeera. Moroccans like their brethrens did not have much choice in news sources before the arrival of JNC. Moroccans have learned a bunch about their recent political history from programs aired on the Pan-Arab channel. The Moroccan public has been grateful to JNC's efforts and interest; however, too much attention turns into an obsession.
At first, The Moroccan authorities were accommodating to JNC’s presence in Morocco. Rabat let the Qatari Channel broadcast a live news program design to cover North African news. Not long after the launch of” Al-Hassad Al-Magharibi” news program, Al-Jazeera's coverage focused heavily on Moroccan affairs with a special interest in social ailments and accidental news. In sum, JNC North African News journal became an avenue for the world to see Morocco’s problems with little coverage of Morocco’s advancements and achievements. Moroccans felt targeted and battered by a biased coverage. The Moroccan government finally decided to stop Al-Jazeera’s one sided news program.
If the jury was still out on whether Al-Jazeera’s coverage of Morocco is biased, the case of the Sahrawi political prisoner Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud (currently jailed by the Algerian Army) has been the ultimate proof of an influenced and a prejudiced policy by Al-Jazeera’s team toward news items on Morocco’s.
As opposed to the account of the separatist Haidar, which was the lead story of several of JNC newscast; the disappearance of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud was a secondary news item in JNC’s news program. Al-Jazeera’s slogan of presenting a view and the opposite view does not apply to Morocco!
The Moroccan public who initially endorsed Al-Jazeera is dismayed with its anti-Moroccan obvious biases. It will take more than shouting matches and anti-Israeli rhetoric to convince some viewers of Al-Jazeera’s objectivity and balance.
Author: Hassan Masiky graduated from the University of the District of Columbia with a degree in political science. Hassan joined the Washington DC based non government organization the Parliamentary Human Rights Foundation (PHRF) where he worked as a consultant for USAID democracy projects in Mexico, Haiti, Republic of Georgia and the European Parliament. After leaving PHRF, Hassan dedicated his time advising Amnesty International USA on African and Middle Eastern affairs and representing the organization in press conferences. Mr. Masiky was a host on several television shows discussing human rights and democracy.