Media in the Arab World

Wadah Khanfar, Director General of Al Jazeera, to Deliver 2010 Symposium Keynote Address

March 15, 2010 · Leave a Comment


KhanfarCCAS is honored to welcome Wadah Khanfar, Director General of the Al Jazeera Network, as the Keynote Speaker at its 2010 annual symposium, “Information Evolution in the Arab World.” Ranked as one of the most “Powerful People in the World” by Forbes Magazine, named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (Davos), recognized as the third most influential Arab in the world by Arabian Business, and named one of the most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, Wadah Khanfar has turned Al Jazeera from a single channel into a media network with multiple properties, including Al Jazeera ArabicAl Jazeera EnglishAl Jazeera DocumentaryAl Jazeera Sport, the Al Jazeera Media Training and Development Center, the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, Al Jazeera Mubasher (Live), and Al Jazeera Mobile

Khanfar’s lecture will take place Tuesday, March 23 at 11:00 am in the Lohrfink Auditorium in the Rafik B. Hariri Building on the campus of Georgetown University.

To see the agenda for day 1 of the conference, March 22, click here.

To see the agenda for day 2 of the conference, March 23, click here.

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Announcing Our Upcoming Symposium, “Information Evolution in the Arab World,” March 22 & 23

March 3, 2010 · Leave a Comment

CCAS-Logo-lo-res-smallFor information about the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies’ upcoming annual symposium, “Information Evolution in the Arab World,” please consult our website here. Also, do not hesitate to contact our public affairs coordinator, Ms. Margaret Daher, with any questions. She can be reached at We hope to see you there!

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Canada’s Media Commission Approves Al Jazeera English

February 23, 2010 · Leave a Comment

AJILogoThe Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, has approved Al Jazeera English for cable broadcasting. Read about the controversy surrounding this decision in a Ryerson Review of Journalism article, with commentary from CCAS’s own Adel Iskandar.

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Egyptian Blogger Wael Abbas: In His Own Words, “Unstoppable”

February 3, 2010 · Leave a Comment

Wael Abbas

Photo courtesy of the International Center for Journalists.

 In a 2007 interview with Al Jazeera English, Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas, known for posting videos of police brutality and government corruption on his blog Misr Digital (Egyptian Awareness), spoke about one of his principal fears as he faces his country’s authoritarian regime.

 “I’m afraid of someone filing a lawsuit against me…This is my main concern now,” he said.

 Abbas’s fear has unfortunately come true. The activist, who has been honored with awards by the International Center for Journalists, CNN, and the BBC, was recently sentenced to six months in prison for “building WAN networks”—“whatever the hell that means,” Abbas wrote on his Facebook and Twitter pages. He spoke last week with the Center about the sentence as well as his blog and his hope for Egypt’s future.

It would have been easy to look away from the injustices you document. What made you personally decide to stand up?

I feel a responsibility to discuss issues that nobody else will. [The reason why I post] is a mixture of this feeling and of wanting to make my country better. The people also have trust in me, and I don’t want to disappoint them. I feel good about letting people know what’s going on, even if nothing changes and the government denies it.

And maybe I’m not brave – I’m just rash! I don’t know, but I believe in something, I’m unstoppable, and I don’t yield to intimidation or harrassment. I’m stubborn by nature.

How did your blog gain attention?

It gained an audience because the subjects I post about [such as torture in police stations] don’t get enough attention from the traditional media. And people respond to my blog because I have video documentation. I received half a million hits in one day for the story I did in 2005 that exposed that the ruling party hired prostitutes to sexually harass female demonstrators during the presidential referendum.

What kinds of punishment have you had to endure from the government because of your blog? What brought about your six-month prison sentence?

In the last five years a lot of things happened, including rumors that I am a homosexual, that I have a criminal record, and that I converted to Christianity. My blog has been attacked electronically, and my laptop has been confiscated at the Cairo airport. Recently, I filed a complaint against a police officer for punching out my front tooth—he was never charged. He filed the lawsuit against me to punish me, and I was sentenced to six months in prison. I’m out on bail and am appealing the verdict.

What responsibility would you say Egyptians have once they see your proof of police brutality and government corruption?

I believe [their awareness of these things] will result in a gradual change. Without knowledge, people won’t care because they don’t know. If they want to have a better future for their children, if they want their children to have a better country, they shouldn’t be afraid of the intimidation and should take matters in their own hands.

What benefits would you say the Internet has given journalists in playing “democracy’s watchdog”?

Since the media is highly controlled by the Egyptian security forces, people in the media are always afraid and censor themselves, whereas the Internet provides a means of transmitting controversial information. But it is only a means to spread the word. People used to use graffiti and spray on walls, for instance.

Could you speak a bit about the Egyptian government and those that oppose it? Is there hope for an opposition, either Islamist or secular?

The Islamist opposition is not as courageous and tends to cut deals with the government. The other kinds of opposition are fighting with each other and are not working on organizing themselves. Plus, we have the emergency law, so we don’t have the right of assembly. [The emergency law, in place since 1981, prohibits gatherings of more than five people and limits other civil liberties]. Without permission from the government, you can’t even start an NGO. If we can overcome these obstacles that are hindering the media and political parties, then change can happen. Awareness is a start.

What is your take on Obama’s approach to Egypt and the Arab world – particularly in terms of the idea of “freedom?”

The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration, is being very friendly to the dictators in the region, especially in the case of Egypt. In fact, this has gotten worse since Obama came to power, and it’s a horrible decision on the part of the Administration. Aid to Egypt from the United States (second only to what Israel gets) is going to the government, the military, and government-monitored organizations, not to the Egyptian people. 

Wael’s blog can be accessed here.

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Problems For Palestinian Journalists

January 27, 2010 · Leave a Comment

Electronic Intifada covers the safety risks that journalists in Palestine face while trying to bring news coverage of the region to the world in this interesting article.

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NPR Looks at Arab Media

January 25, 2010 · Leave a Comment

NPR’s Talk of the Nation speaks with Shibley Telhami, Abdul Rahman al Rashed and Hafez al-Mirazi about the current state of Arab Media. The discussion provides a formal view on how Arab Media deals with state institutions and the rise of new media outlets. Listen to the full broadcast.

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DotNetArabi Fills Podcast Void

January 21, 2010 · Leave a Comment

Last year, Jordanian Emad Alashi noticed the lack of Arabic podcasts dealing with emerging technology. In response, he launched DotNetArabi, a monthly podcast that features experts from across the Arab world. Alashi also blogs about his experience producing the podcast.

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Mother Jones interviews Joe Sacco on his latest book on Palestine

January 21, 2010 · Leave a Comment

saccoSonja Sharp, of Mother Jones, interviews Joe Sacco on his latest book on Palestine, Footnotes in Gaza. Their talk ranged from Sacco’s artistic process and the state of Palestinian refugee camps to the modern comic book. to Read the interview here.

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Soap Opera Tourism

January 14, 2010 · Leave a Comment

article_medium_touristsMonocle posted an interesting video report on the influx of Arab tourists to Istanbul resulting from the popularity of Turkish soap opera “Noor” in Arab countries. You can be certain that we will discuss parallel themes during the conference on the “Entertainment and Popular Culture” panel!

Watch the video here.

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