Censorship of Arab News Media

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill to censor some of the Arab news media, particularly satellite channels if Washington deemed, with Israeli backing, that these satellite channels are broadcasting content that is in conflict with American and Israeli interests in the region.

It is strange that this U.S. legislative step, which was opposed by only three members of the House of Representatives, came on the heels of the president’s success in turning a new page in the Islamic and Arab world by drawing a new framework for their relationship, based on mutual respect and common interests rather than opportunities, particularly as stated in his speech at Cairo University.

Note that the United States claims to defend human rights and freedom of the press but accuses the “terrorists,” wherever they are, of lacking respect for democracy and human rights. At the same time, the U.S. is behaving contrary to what it preaches because it considers the basic measure for freedom of the press to be something that does not harm American or Israeli interests.

Full text of H.R. 2278 can be found at THOMAS.

For more information on H.R. 2278, see Gov Trak.

This is a new definition of media freedom that even the most powerful of dictatorships have failed to achieve. The United States and its high ranking planners have forgotten that they have U.S. government news media funded by American taxpayers that can only be broadcast outside the United States. U.S. law prohibits such broadcasts inside the country under legislative codes that do not allow the Treasury to finance media that is privately-owned rather than government-owned.

The signatories that helped pass the repressive law recognize that the U.S. and Israeli news media have free reign around the globe as a result of the freedoms of press, speech, and religion that are protected throughout world.

Indeed, the Arab satellite media happens to be more democratic than its American and Israeli counterparts because Arab satellites host both sides of the issue. The satellite will not host an American official without its Iranian counterpart, and such is the case with Israeli officials that became familiar faces in Arab news media, as well. Where are the American and Israeli news media when it comes to that freedom, though? Do they allow an Iranian official or a Hamas official to express his opinion?

Unfortunately, the U.S. legislation, which would grant Obama the right to censor Arab media (such as Al-Manar Hezbollah, Al-Aqsa – Hamas and the Iraqi Al-Zawra) and report on their performance in six months, is in itself an attack on the freedom of the media and the press, the freedom of expression, and religion. This demonstrates a policy of ethical and professional double standards, a downfall from which the U.S. administration has always suffered.

The bill passed by the House of Representatives confirms the claims of critics of U.S. policy in the Islamic world as a whole, and the Middle East in particular, that it is a policy based on double standards when Washington places its interests and Israel’s interests above the values and principles it advocates in the Middle East region.

U.S. lawmakers did not hesitate to impose penalties on satellite owners that allow for “hostile” news media by regarding them as supporters of terrorism. In addition, the lawmakers are discussing a bill sponsored by the U.S. administration to tie its monetary aid to countries in the Middle East with how well those countries manage to censor their media from harming U.S. interests – a strange excuse for logic.

Translated By Amal Bakleh; edited by Jessica Boesl
Original version here.


One Response

  1. Hamas can’t open a cable channel in the United States for the same reason it can’t open a bakery: because the bakery would be financing a terrorist group. You can debate whether Hamas or Hezbullah should be considered terrorist, but I don’t think shutting down their news networks constitutes censorship if the reason is financial as opposed to content related.

    Similar content is constitutionally protected in America and freely propagated, provided the financial aspect is not an issue.

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