"What is this nonsense? Well, I will tell you. It has nothing to do with the Bahrainis or the al-Khalifas. It is all about our fear of Saudi Arabia. Which also means it is about oil. It is about our absolute refusal to remember that 9/11 was committed largely by Saudis. It is about our refusal to remember that Saudi Arabia supported the Taliban, that Bin Laden was a Saudi, that the most cruel version of Islam comes from Saudi Arabia, the land of head-choppers and hand-cutters. It is about a conversation I had with a Bahraini official – a good and decent and honest man – in which I asked him why the Bahraini prime minister could not be elected by a majority Shia population. “The Saudis would never permit it,” he said. Yes, our other friends. The Saudis."
Robert Fisk, Why no outcry over these torturing tyrants? (It’s best if you read this entire, short, article.)
On this tiny island, a Sunni monarchy, the al-Khalifas, rule a majority Shia population and have responded to democratic protests with death sentences, mass arrests, the imprisonment of doctors for letting patients die after protests and an “invitation” to Saudi forces to enter the country. They have also destroyed dozens of Shia mosques with all the thoroughness of a 9/11 pilot. But then, let’s remember that most of the 9/11 killers were indeed Saudis.
And what do we get for it? Silence. Silence in the US media, largely silence in the European press, silence from our own beloved CamerClegg and of course from the White House. And – shame of shame – silence from the Arabs who know where their bread is buttered. That means, of course, also silence from al-Jazeera. I often appear on their otherwise excellent Arabic and English editions, but their failure to mention Bahrain is shameful, a dollop of shit in the dignity that they have brought to reporting in the Middle East. The Emir of Qatar – I know him and like him very much – does not need to belittle his television empire in this way.
I’m sorry to butt in (since I know this is a quote from Mr.Fisk not you directly) but I’ve got to address this just because I think I have valuable information that can be added to this topic that most others don’t. First off Mr.Fisk has good intentions, which are to highlight the plight of the people of Bahrain, but his opinion here is premature and just not well backed.
Has Libya gotten move coverage than Bahrain? Yes.
Did Japan get more coverage? Yes.
But if you can give me one major media organization to the level of Al-Jazeera that has done MORE coverage of Bahrain then I will give you a free dinner. People are misconstruing this and believing that somehow because Bahrain isn’t being covered “enough” (which is strange because “enough” is a matter of opinion) that means that it is directly due to some sort of involvement by the Emir of Qatar and some sort of timidness by Al-Jazeera. Now listen carefully to my answer, I speak only for AJ English since I can’t say anything about Al Jazeera Arabic (being that they are separate in administrative means). We dealt with this specific issue at our staff meeting the other day when the heads of our departments addressed the subject of our Bahrain coverage, when one of our staff members asked how we could counter accusations that we are being partial in our coverage. That said staff member then clarified that HE knew we were not being partial in our amount of coverage but wanted the opinion of the bosses…and so they dealt with it quite well. First off you have to understand that Al-Jazeera is broadcast journalism…as much as we at the office want to cover every story we just can’t. Now when you have a very real war going on in Libya, one of our staff being captured in Syria then sent to Iran and now missing, and an entire global audience you just CAN’T spend as much time as you would like on Bahrain. That being said do we WANT to cover it? Of course (and I’m simply voicing the opinions of co-workers in the news team). But there are very real reasons as to why our coverage has been sporadic that include but aren’t limited to
- Danger/threats to journalists, many of whom have been targeted and/or denied access to the country and others who have been deported or threatened with violence.
- The way the situation in Bahrain is developing in comparison to Libya/Syria, there is obvious violence but it is becoming more concentrated now on cases of targeted threats/violence and not at the same level/quantity of mass outdoor-public attacks as was the case earlier. You just can’t give it the same coverage as tanks and machine gun fire being used recently ( since we covered when Bahrain and foreign UAE/Saudi forces were firing into crowds of non-violent protesters) in places like Syria and Libya.
- Lastly (only to keep this short) Al-Jazeera works very hard to present a global news approach because I’m sorry to say but there are many people on this earth and some of them want to hear about the gunfire happening outside their houses more than gunfire happening in a far off place. So my co-workers work very hard to find a balance between international priorities in news and equal coverage of issues across the globe. For instance the current AJE website has stories spread out across 7 different world regions on it’s main stories page just until halfway on the page. In doing that they are hoping to try and balance the demands for news across the world by people who all want their area’s troubles covered, while at the same time finding a balance between the most pressing issues for the time being.
I am not making excuses for AJE, just giving the reasons…the reasons that restrain us in this world of restraints…and the reasons that eat away at some of the journalists in our office because they want to cover so much but they just can’t. My defense rests in the fact that although we may not be covering Bahrain to the level that some people wish, we have in no way stopped covering the issue.
Look just at the depth that we’ve tried to cover the issue (and I say that because obviously the journalists at the office wish they could do more, and the producers do also but they realistically can’t) and you will see flat out that we have given Bahrain more coverage in relation to the rest of the major media organizations in the world than anyone else.
1. Although Bahrain isn’t in the front of our website at this moment (though it has appeared there sporadically through the past 2 weeks) all you have to do is go to the Middle-East section and instantly you find the article that is 3rd on the list to be none other than Bahrain accepts resignation of opposition MPs. That might not be great according to some, but I think it’s understandable that compared to the situations going on in the region being 3rd on the list for Bahrain is not unfair.
2. If that isn’t enough for people like Mr.Fisk then he can take a look at our specified live blog for Bahrain, that AJE maintains 24/7 with a steady feed of pictures,videos, tweets and special correspondent input (when available due to safety risks for reporters).
3. Last point I’ll make for those who still think that AJE’s level of Bahrain
coverage has somehow been influenced by the Emir or fear/timidity towards the Bahrain government, is that they can take a look at our Exclusive Coverage Series on Bahrain ( this link is to part 3 in the series, and more are on the way).
With all that in mind I hope anyone who sees this can understand that the level of AJE-Bahrain coverage is due to restrictions on our physical capabilities and manpower, and not because of some outside corporate/monarchical force that is trying to artificially censor/engineer news priorities.
To everyone reading this who is interested in/committed to the situation in Bahrain, please keep your eyes and ears open for the upcoming documentary series we are dedicating to the situation in Bahrain… and do be patient with my co-workers, they are trying their best but in a world with a lot of people with many different interests it is hard to maintain a balance while at the same time giving attention to definitely important world events.
-If you are truly invested in/seeking information on Bahrain on a 24/7 basis please click on the links I have posted above, they should serve as a good starting point.
A Fellow human-being dedicated to shining light on the darkness in the world