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IUK: Fisk - A bold and original TV station that America wants to censor
By Robert Fisk

11/10/2001 2:41 pm Thu

[Amerika begitu gerun dengan stesen TV Al Jazeera - mana tidaknya ia berjaya mencelik mata dunia Arab dan membongkar serta mengupas tembelang Amerika. Ternyata Amerika telah teraib oleh siarannya yang bebas dan terbuka sehingga mahu menapisnya pula. Padahal Amerika melaungkan perlunya kebebasan bersuara.

'Tidak hairanlah AS mahu ditapis siaran Al-Jazeera. Ia adalah satu fenomena dunia Arab yang agak bebas serta inisiatif yang berani dalam dunia kewartawanan yang selama ini dijulang Amerika - kini kebebasannya itu dirasakan (terlalu menggugat dan) terlalu bebas pula' - Fisk - Editor]

A bold and original TV station that America wants to censor

War against terrorism: Al-Jazeera

By Robert Fisk

11 October 2001

The White House urged the major American television networks to cut back on the screening of statements by Osama bin Laden and his spokesmen on Wednesday, warning they could contain secret orders to his followers in the US.

The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said intelligence analysts were scrutinising the videotaped appearances of Mr bin Laden on Sunday, shortly after the air strikes against Afghanistan began, and of the Al-Qa'ida spokesman, Sulemain Abu Gheit, who on Tuesday praised the 11 September attacks and warned that others would follow. The tapes could contain "some kind of message", General Powell said.

The White House made its appeal after Qatar's Al Jazeera channel aired the pre-recorded statements by Mr bin Laden and Mr Abu Gheit, which in turn were picked up by the US networks. The request was issued to senior executives of the four main broadcast networks and CNN. Afterwards, the five said they would examine incoming feeds of such statements from Al-Jazeera and not air them live.

"At best, Osama bin Laden's message is propaganda, calling on people to kill Americans. At worst, he could be issuing orders to his followers to initiate such attacks," Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said

The US embassy in Doha has already filed a formal diplomatic complaint about Al-Jazeera with the tiny Qatari state which funds it.

It is no wonder the US wants to censor Al-Jazeera. It is a phenomenon in the Arab world, a comparatively free, bold initiative in journalism that was supported by the Americans until it became rather too free.

With more than 35 offices around the world including Kabul the channel's 350-strong staff have had reporters in the Pentagon, northern Afghanistan (with the so-called Northern Alliance) and Gaza. It was the first channel to show Palestinians firing mortars at Israeli settlements and scooped Iraqi television with a speech by Saddam Hussein inviting Arabs to overthrow their pro-Western leaders.

The channel has its critics inside and outside the station. One member of staff used to fear that Al-Jazeera was "run by the CIA" an idea quickly dismissed now that the Americans want to muzzle it. Others thought it lacked respect for authority.

Alas for the Americans, Israel and local Arab despots, Al-Jazeera is now the best-selling, highest-rated channel in the Middle East. And when it comes to footage of the American bombing of Kabul, whose material does CNN show? Al Jazeera's, of course.