Source: ResumenMedioOriente.org / The Dawn / November 11, 2015.- For several weeks, the tv station Al Mayadeen has been a victim of heavy censorship attempts. Its satellite provider, Arabsat, is looking to take the news channel down, arguing that they have expressed criticism against the monarchy of Saudi Arabia.
In this interview with Middle East Summary, Wafica Ibrahim, Al Mayadeen adviser for Latin America, recounts the birth of the communications project, its current development, its links with Latin America and the need to defend an initiative that reports from and for the people.
How was Al Mayadeen born?
It was born on June 11, 2012 as a cry for help and as our peoples’ protest against media manipulation and misrepresentation. Despite its short time in the air, it has become one of the most influential and widespread Arab news channels, becoming the most important news channel due to our commitment to professional and objective journalism, so that it is a space of convergence, dialogue, agreement and interaction.
Since its inception, Al Mayadeen has been characterized by having a wide coverage, and by being the first in reporting events in their news and programs. Al Mayadeen pioneered in coverage from Palestine, especially during the wars of Israel against Gaza, and their reports became a source of information for BBC, Fox News, Russia Today, France 24 and for the channels of Japanese, European, Arab and Latin American television, as well as for international newspapers like the Washington Post and Le Monde. The channel has an experienced management that has extensive experience in the field of audiovisual media and a team of young and experienced journalists from all Arab countries.
Why is the station target of persecution and censorship?
This issue has public reasons, because the Lebanese government said that the owners of [competing news station] Arabsat threatened that they would move to Jordan if Al Mayadeen was not punished. Formally, they say that the measure was due to a talk show in which a guest held the Saudi authorities accountable for the tragedy during the last Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, in which more than 1,100 pilgrims died. Al Mayadeen can not be responsible for what a guest says. And this has been corroborated by a legal commission of the Ministry of Information of Lebanon. But the real reasons are worse, as it has become clear that the campaign against Al Mayadeen is due to the large success we are having.
Some media felt that these pressures against Al Mayadeen are part of the measures of Riyadh’s government to silence the voices that reveal the aggressions of the Saudi Coalition against the Yemeni people. Other analyzes speak of the pressures of the Zionist lobby because several Arab and Western satellite companies have adopted such measures against freedom of expression, especially now that Al Mayadeen is immersed in the coverage of the new Palestinian Intifada.
What powers are annoyed and uncomfortable by Al Mayadeen’s existence?
It upsets the empire that has misled our people with the story of democracy and constructive chaos. It is annoying and uncomfortable especially to the Zionist State of Israel, to the terrorists and the agents and the traitors, those who want to break up our nations and our peoples, because Al Mayadeen supports the alternative of the Resistance. The same goes for Resumen Latinoamericano and with our brother Carlos Aznárez. They could not stand his voice, the voice of truth, that accused them as the criminals they are. Aznárez is paying for his love of Palestine and all of our people, who feel the appreciation and solidarity, and say that they are with him and will defend him with their eyes if necessary.
What are the main contributions of Al Mayadeen to the international communicational map?
We believe in the convergence of cultures and in dialogue between different civilizations on the basis of respect and equality. The channel has stated, from the beginning, its alignment with the human and national liberation causes around the world and has demonstrated it through its politics, its alignment and its political affiliation in the southern countries, particularly in Asia, Africa and Latin America. That is why it has been participating in the International Radio and Television Convention-Festival. And this year, at the “Cuba-2015” meeting we have participated, honoring the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. All of this translates the desire and interest to establish a comprehensive approach, integration and interaction with the media for the public good in the South.
Al Mayadeen launched the initiative to form the International Media Network in Defense of Humanity, which was received with great enthusiasm by our brothers and sisters in Cuba, Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela, Africa, the Caribbean, etc. That generated an information exchange between Al Mayadeen and a group of television channels in Latin America during the Israeli assault on Gaza in November 2012. That contributed to enlighten public opinion in Latin America about what was happening in the Palestinian territories, unlike the view what most Western media were trying to promote, that manipulated and trumped reality, and said that it was a terrorist attack against Israel.
Latin American media also inform us their reality with their own approach, examples are Resumen Latinoamericano, TeleSUR, Prensa Latina, etc. This exchange confirms the importance of deepening, broadening and developing cooperation in the field of information between Al Mayadeen and Latin American media in order to confront the destructive and colonialist plans that are forged with these two regions by the Western colonial powers.
Lately, we have obtained great results of these relations with Latin America, such as cooperation with Telesur, which bore fruit in the production of a joint monthly program called “Power”, dedicated to communicate the truth and overcome the obstacles of distance and language, in defense of mankind and of just causes. Similarly, with Cubavisión International we have begun to produce a joint program called “Reflections”.
Moreover, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, was kind enough to receive a delegation of Al Mayadeen and sent a special message for the channel’s third anniversary. President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has been chosen by the channel as “Personality of the Year 2014”. Recently, the president of Al Mayadeen, Ghassan Ben Jeddou, presented in Cuba, on behalf of all our Arab peoples, of the high distinction of Merit to Life to Fidel Castro.