Friday, April 21, 2006

How to Lose Your Job at a Saudi Newspaper

This is a great piece and it speaks about how important information is in shaping opinion and what happens when that information is not allowed to flow freely:

I was unceremoniously fired this month by my Saudi newspaper, a leading English-language daily called Arab News.

It didn't matter that I had been the senior columnist on the op-ed page for nine years or that my work was quoted widely in the European and American media, including this paper. What mattered was that I had committed one of the three cardinal sins an Arab journalist must avoid when working for the Arab press: I criticized the government.[snip]

But this is not just the story of an Arab journalist losing his job. It is a story with implications for the current American administration's efforts to "introduce" the Arab countries to democracy, of which independent, free media are a major building block.

What Arabs, including those masquerading as their newspaper editors, have yet to learn is that a free press, a truly free press, is a moral imperative in society. Subvert it, and you subvert the public's sacrosanct right to know and a newspaper's traditional role to expose. If the Western democracies work better than many others, it is because to them the concept of accountability, expected from the head of state on down, is a crucial function of their national ideology.[snip]

Democracy may be a political system, but it is also a social ethos. How responsive can a country be to such an ethos when its people have, for generations, existed with an ethic of fear -- fear of originality, fear of innovation, fear of spontaneity, fear of life itself -- and have had instilled in them the need to accept orthodoxy, dependence and submission?

The Arab world today, sadly, remains a collection of disparate entities ruled for the most part by authoritarian regimes that rely on coercion, violence and terror to rule, and that demand from their citizens submission, obedience and conformity. And that includes those citizens who call themselves "journalists," to whom, by now, responsibility to truth and logic has become irrelevant.

Read the rest:

How to Lose Your Job at a Saudi Newspaper

h/t: Terrorism Unveiled

This goes right along with our discussion about seeing the world through a specific prism.

I would also like to suggest reading Wahabism

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