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EGYPT: As protests continue, Al Jazeera's role debated


Security was deteriorating across Egypt late Sunday as protesters mounted fresh marches and rallies in a number of cities.

In Alexandria, protesters marched around barricades meant to keep the streets clear, Al Jazeera reported.

"This protest, this march, has been going on for seven hours now. Clearly, no sign that it's going to abate any time soon," an unnamed Al Jazeera correspondent said.

"We have to remember that Egyptians broke a massive fear barrier on Jan. 25 when they took to the streets ... there's probably not a single main street in Alexandria — no exaggeration — that this march has not passed through."

Meanwhile, pundits and bloggers debated what role the Arab satellite news network has played in the political uprising.

On CNN's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz spoke with Al Jazeera’s Washington Bureau Chief Abderrahim Foukara about Bill O’Reilly’s recent comment that Al Jazeera is "spurring on this revolt and encouraging uprisings all over the Muslim world." Foukara disagreed.

"The viewership, the people who are directly involved in these events, they come to Al Jazeera because that's who they feel they can trust with their grievances and their aspirations," Foukara said.

Many academics, bloggers and other outside observers agree, saying Al Jazeera, which has English as well as Arabic-language channels, has evolved to play a similar role in this conflict as CNN did during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

"Al Jazeera saw the gravity of the situation," Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institute in Doha told Reuters, referring to Egypt and Tunisia. "They saw it was going to be big before other people did and that it would stand as one of the historic moments in Arab history."

But so did bloggers and those with Twitter feeds such as "Sandmonkey," who sent dispatches Sunday as he arrived in Tahrir Square ("in tahrir now, everyone here, ppl of ALL classes, army letting us in, v peaceful") protestst grew tense ("word is army has permission to shoot live ammunition at protesters") and he left for Zamalek ("zamalek is a ghost town, inadequate protection even by volunteer committees").

But Marc Lynch, an associate professor at George Washington University, credited Al Jazeera — more than Twitter and other social media— with fostering recent uprisings in Tunisia and other countries.

"Without the new social media, the amazing images of Tunisian protestors might never have escaped the blanket repression of the Ben Ali regime — but it was the airing of these videos on Al Jazeera, even after its office had been shuttered, which brought those images to the mass Arab public and even to many Tunisians who might otherwise not have realized what was happening around their country," Lynch wrote. "This is similar to how the new media empowered Egyptian "Kifaya" protesters in the early 2000s and Lebanese protestors in 2005, but in a significantly changed media space."


Egypt's military moves to take control of parts of Cairo

U.S. Embassy in Cairo to begin voluntary evacuation flights Monday

Egyptian opposition leaders plan to negotiate with military, not president

Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks with counterparts in Egypt, Israel about unrest

— Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Image:  The Cairo offices of Al Jazeera. Credit: Mohammed Abed / AFP/Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (5)

Tell me, would this article be critical of Al Jazeera if it was reporting from Tehran instead of Cairo? If the Iranian people were protesting for their regime to step down what would our gov't and world gov't (UN?!) be saying and doing now? What would our news media say? We actually were able to see that a little while ago when Iran had their last elections. We were all over it as much as possible...why not for Egypt (and Tunisia and etc)?

And for those that induce the Muslim brotherhood (MB) and Islamaphobia. Egypt is a people of 85 million...u lump all those people into one? The MB is one group out of hundred ,perhaps more if the people can be equally represented in gov't (one thing they are asking). The MB from what I read and heard them say in the news is not interested in running the country. They are not organized or even set up that way (they don't have popular support either). Muslims are not the ones to be afraid of. The lies and redirection is. We really need to steer away from this if we are to be taken seriously in world politics. Americans are way behind in knowing the real history of things ( we are still fighting here to have ethnic studies in Arizona). We are stuck in the mud and yet are ruling the world. Not a good combination.

I am not surprised that the LA Times and other US news agencies would take this line on AL Jazeera. When ALJazeera first came on the scenes it was a force to be reckon with in the news world. They are competition. American news is awful, even those that think they are critical--they are not. It is not news. They give Hollywood movies more indepth reports...what about sports too!! They write and speak uncritically (example: this article is suppose to be critical?? NOT.)

AL Jazeera journalists are not only honest and professional in their work, no matter where they cover or what they put on the screen..., it is interesting and stimulating and they grasp several intersections and ideas (not democrat or republican or Israel or Tea Party)....and if u are sensible to watch it u will see that all this Muslim stuff is hype. They have a diverse ray of people reporting the news from all around the world. Media professionals that have worked for American networks, EU networks, bbc, old timers and young notch folks...and they are always changing and growing. they bring the news not their opinions (opinions are strictly stated not passed off as news).

I think the LA Times is jealous of coverage they could only dream about--maybe once was .

All this hype about Muslim Brotherhood, Al Jazeera incitment. I hope people can be critical enough to see that this is a load being sold to them (fear) to scare them into staying away from watching one of our centuries greatest people's revolution...this is big for the entire world...why is China and Saudi Arabia putting a lid on things (to name a few places)...they wouldn't want to see the energy spill into their people...which is what i think about my own gov't and news agencies that support their line. We stopped long ago seeing the truth in journalism in this country. THank goodness I can watch Al Jazeera and see what is really happening in Egypt, Tunisia, etc...And what are they protesting? do u know? some of it resonates to what is happening here (jobs, housing, fair elections, wage improvements, stability, safety, equality, regime change, etc)

What I can see from watching the news on AL Jazeera speaks for itself and I don't need to be fooled otherwise. I am concerned about what is happening and how it relates to us in this country (we prop up these dictators and our interests take over human rights--this comes back later to haunt us no?). I don't want pretend news and articles that propagate against a news agency that is doing what is is supposed to do--report the news (let people know what is going on)!

Al Jazeera TV has been run by a Muslim Brotherhood member since 2003. Their staff is LOADED with members from the Brotherhood...

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD SEEKS GLOBAL ISLAMIC CALIPHATE where Muslims AND NON-Muslims are ruled by the Draconian, BARBARIC "legal" system called SHARIA LAW.

This is a COMMON GOAL shared with terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, Taliban & Hamas, the Brotherhood's ONLY diversion from Al Qaeda agenda is they USUALLY do it by POLITICAL methods (but SUPPORT violence against civilians by Palestinians).

"Osama bin Laden said he was influenced by the religious and political ideas of several professors with strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood including Sayyid Qutb. However, once Al Qaeda was fully organized, it denounced the Muslim Brotherhood's reform through nonviolence"

Hamas is the VIOLENT wing of the Brotherhood:

"The Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 was the first time since the Sudanese coup of 1989 that brought Omar al-Bashir to power, that a Muslim Brotherhood group ruled a significant geographic territory."

The Muslim Brotherhood's GOAL in the US is simple:

"Their 'General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America' makes the objectives of the MB clear. Their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and DESTROYING WESTERN CIVILIAN FROM WITHIN so that Allah's religion is made victorious over all other religions."

I don't believe al Jazeera is the cause of these uprisings, but if it were true, so what? Is it a bad thing? From what I have been reading and hearing, the mass of the people are rejecting the Islamists. This is political and not religious. This is not Iran.

Al Jazeera has been the most unbiased reliable new source for millions. It is the person who should choose which news channel to watch NOT THE GOVT. I am shocked that the LA Times would not support freedom of the press and would write an article that tarnishes everything that the Al Jazeera new source has provided. CNN and Fox have failed completely at reporting the riots around the world as well as the reason behind the riots.

WHO is choosing our news by blocking Al Jazeera, this is absolutely frightening. But hey we live in a country now that has shoppers at Walmart calling in suspicious activity thanks to the DHS videos telling US citizens to SPY on each other so why not block news sites also from the US? Yeah no big deal go back to watching entertainment tonight…


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