Friday, June 09, 2006

They should.....and they shouldn't.....

The following article from the Jordan Times raises a few issues in my mind; printed here in full.

Police stop live interview with Zarqawi’s brother-in-law

Abu Mussab Zarqawi was killed in a US air strike north of Baghdad on Wednesday evening

By Alia Shukri Hamzeh

AMMAN — Police on Thursday interrupted a live Al Jazeera broadcast from Zarqa and briefly detained the satellite channel’s crew and confiscated their camera and tapes.

The incident took place as Al Jazeera’s correspondent Yasser Abu Hilala was interviewing the brother-in-law of the former Al Qaeda frontman in Iraq Abu Mussab Zarqawi.

Government Spokesperson Nasser Judeh, however, said Abu Hilala had not been held by police, stressing that the live interview was halted due to high emotions among local people.

“Maybe some people felt that Al Jazeera’s coverage or approach wasn’t balanced and so emotions were charged, especially for the families of those who died in the 11/9 bombings,” he said.

The interview was cut off as Zarqawi’s in-law, known as Abu Qudama, was praising the dead Al Qaeda leader and depicting him as a hero.

Al Qaeda had claimed responsibility for the Amman triple bombings last November that killed 60 people.

“In the midst of the live interview with Zarqawi’s in-law, the police arrived and pushed aside our cameras. We did not stop the interview and continued with the audio transmission, then they arrested Abu Qudama and later took me,” Abu Hilala told The Jordan Times, adding that he remained in police custody for half an hour.

The authorities usually ban filming in Zarqawi’s hometown and usually require media personnel to obtain permission.

Abu Hilala noted that he had not sought permission to film.

Al Jazeera crew was just one of many international TV crews who descended on the northern city yesterday in search of a reaction from family members to the Jordanian fugitive’s death announced earlier in the day.

The Al Qaeda leader and Iraq’s most wanted man with a $25 million bounty on his head, was killed in a US air strike north of Baghdad Wednesday evening.

Other TV crews were also banned from filming and from interviewing members of Zarqawi’s family. Some had their tapes confiscated, reporters told The Jordan Times.

The Centre for Defending Freedom of Journalists issued a statement denouncing the brief detention, describing it as a breach of press freedoms and harmful to Jordan’s image.

The centre repeated its calls for the authorities to stop arresting journalists, saying such actions run contrary to the country’s democratic reform process.

“The whole aim was not to arrest journalists, but rather to stop us from filming in Zarqa,” Abu Hilala said.

“Regardless of how people feel, whether they support Zarqawi or denounce him as a terrorist, it’s my job to portray what is going on and show the facts on the ground,” he said.

My thoughts are these:

Press freedom in Jordan should be improved.

Al-Jazeera knew exactly what they were doing when they went to interview the brother in law....he has been an outspoken supporter of Al-Zarqawi in the past and Al-Jazeera were going after the world's reaction for that one.

I understand completely what the Jordanian authorities were doing when when they stopped the interview and removed the interviewers... it is bad enough that Al-Zarqawi came from Jordan originally without showing that he still has supporters there - however few

Do you remember the world's reaction to the televised images of Palestinians dancing in the streets after September 11th - this sort of bad publicity is the last thing that the Jordanian government needs.

Given the number of Jordanians that died on November 9th last year and the amount of damage caused both to property and the image of Jordan by Zarqawi's hand....allowing someone to speak out in support of him is not a good thing.

In conclusion....ethically Catch 22, however....If it were me....I would have stopped the interview as well.

The world is a slightly better place now that Al-Zarqawi is dead.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Madame Chiang,

As an American, let me first thank the Jordanians for assisting in killing Zarqawi. One never knows who should get the credit in these matters, but Jordan claims a share of the credit, and so it should be.

Fred Jacobsen
San Francisco

3:53 pm  
Blogger Skippy-san said...

Here is the problem as I see it for the Jordanian government. They are a fairly stable monarchy and government. But not a democracy in the traditional sense. With a stable Iraq, they lose. With an unstable Iraq they lose because the insurgents use Jordan as a base. They have to walk a fine line to keep Jordan out of this whole fracas.

Which is important because I think Jordan has a lot to teach the US about the way forward in the middle east. More than Iraq does for sure...........

6:57 am  

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