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Saudi News Channel Sacks a Broadcaster for his Commentary on Egyptian Revolution

Washington, Morocco Board News-- Hafez El-Mirazi did it again. The veteran Arab journalist was fired from the Saudi financed “Al-Arabiya” TV news channel. Ironically, it was more than fifteen years ago that Mr. El-Mirazi was forced out because of his out spoken and daring  interviews treating subjects that were “taboo” for some  Arab governments. In the 1994 interview, the guest was myself and the subject was human rights in Egypt.   Indeed, Mr. El-Mirazi was one of the few journalists who dared invite on an Arab TV station an Amnesty International (AI) representative to discuss human rights abuses by the Mubarak regime in 1990s. At the time, Mr. El-Mirazi invited me to the studios of the Arab Network of America (ANA) to talk about AI’s work in the Middle East including in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Mr. El Mirazi and some of his co-workers were dismissed by the DC based cable television station after the taping of the show.

During my 1994 interview, Hafez was brave and gutsy in his questions. He addressed all the sorts of human rights abuses in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and did not shy away from giving AI a platform to discuss the organization’s work, ideas and advocacy efforts in the Middle East and Africa.  

Fast forward to 2011, Mr. El-Mirazi is fired for criticizing Al-Arabiya’s coverage of the Egyptian uprising. Mr. El-Mirazi promised the viewers of his popular show “Studio Cairo” to discuss the impact of the Egyptian revolution on Saudi Arabia. Knowing he will be let go because of the subject matter, at the end of his last taping he told his audience: “If you do not see me next week, farewell to you my dear viewers”.
Shortly after his challenge to Al-Arabiya’s editorial chief, the Egyptian born TV host was fired. Al-Arabiya management chastised Mr. El-Mirazi few times before his sacking for on the air remarks critical of Saudi Arabia positions toward the Egyptian protesters. Al-Arabiya TV news channel was created as an attempt by Saudi Arabia to counter the Qatari based Al-Jazeera’s popularity in the Middle East. Before the Egyptian revolution, media observers noticed an uptake in the viewership of Al-Arabiya at the expense of Al-Jazeera. However, the Al-Jazeera is once again the undisputed champion of the Arab news channels thanks to its coverage of the Egyptian revolution.
The outburst of Mr. El-Mirazi and his open criticism of Al-Arabiya’s editorial restrictions are signs of a soon to resurface revival of the Egyptian press on the Arab scene. The Mubarak regime had muffled the Egyptian press for more than thirty years. Arab readers and leaders will enjoy a more aggressive, critical, challenging and stimulating Egyptian press. The Egyptian intelligentsia that produced the cornerstones of modern Arab literature has been in retreat for some times now due in part to the Mubarak regime’s censorship. A more open and fearless Arab press will be, without a doubt, a positive outcome of the Egyptian revolution and a welcomed change for Arab readers and viewers. Human rights activists  will be forever grateful for Hafez’s and his colleague, the Moroccan born journalist, Mohamed Dourashad  early on bravery and guts in giving Amnesty International a voice at a time when few Arab press organs dared to approach the issue of human rights in the Arab world.

Comments (11)  

 
Morcelli
0 #1 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Saudi News Channel Sacks a Broadcaster for his Commentary on Egyptian RevolutionMorcelli 2011-02-14 04:59
Well he can go back to Nile TV, I am sure he will be accommodated after the events of Tahrir Square.
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Aziz El Alami
0 #2 They tried to make me go to Riyadh… I said no, no… no.Aziz El Alami 2011-02-14 09:21
A little يمي Winehouse for y’all.

I had the privilege of visiting Saudi Arabia – it is indeed one of the most marvelous places I have visited – yet, it is also one of the most backward society you can ever imagine…. I don’t claim to be an expert on the region, but, the little that I have witnessed, leads me to believe that Saudis are one of the most hypocrite, lazy A** S.O.B’s you’ll ever meet – with their false sense of superiority and false sense of entitlement… They have done nothing to deserve the good fortunes they enjoy. They didn’t discover anything, they didn’t create anything – if it weren’t for the natural resources and being a host to one of holiest places on earth, they would be nothing more than another Yemen.

I am with you Mr. Masiky, I hope that the recent events in Egypt would free up and allow the Arab Media to openly report on what’s really happening in the Arab world, expose and reveal the true nature of Arab Governments and ultimately wake up the forever dormant Arab World.

Can’t wait to see the outcome of the 2/20 planned protests in Morocco, already blessed by the Moroccan Government. I am still not sure if our Government has Kahunas of steel for allowing this or if they think the Moroccan public is so dumb they wouldn’t get laid at a whorehouse with a pocketful of money.
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Robert
0 #3 @ MASIKY & Aziz Robert 2011-02-14 12:15
How is this different to our beloved Morocco? In terms of Freedom of Press, Morocco enjoys a downward trend dropping from 127th to 135th, according to 2010 Press freedom report from Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Morocco ranks below countries such as Venezuela (what a shame!), Algeria, Congo, Chad (what a shame!), Djibouti (some people don’t even know where this one is located), Tonga (where is this one?), Kuwait (shameful!)…etc . You will be surprised to know that Mauritania presents the most media-friendly environment in the Maghreb, registering a five-point climb from 2009 and ranks 95 worldwide. Please, don’t tell me that RSF dislikes Morocco and play the blame game about our enemies…etc. That doesn’t fly anymore. Here are some examples of Morocco’s oppression against free press: (1) Driss Chahtane, editor of Arabic-language weekly al-Mishaal, was sentenced to one year in jail and a 10,000-dirham fine, (2) Akhbar Al Youm editor Taoufik Bouachrine and caricaturist Khalid Gueddar faced prosecution for publishing a cartoon that "insulted" Prince Ismail and the Moroccan flag, (3) Le Journal Hebdomadaire was put under what can only be described as a government conspiracy to quash it. The publication, already targeted by protestors mobilized by the government, was fined 3.05 million dirham on 16 February 2006 for the "crime" of writing on sensitive topics relevant to Moroccans today!! This is the government at its worse: using the ignorance of people to stage a rally against their own interests, (4) TelQuel has been repeatedly subjected to harassment and pressures from the Moroccan government. It was convicted in 2005 on charges of defamation, in what the RSF described as a political trial, (5) Ali Lmrabet was sentenced to four years of prison for insult to the king, threatening the territorial integrity and threatening the monarchic regime. He was also fined 2000 euros and his publications were prohibited. Thr he was “pardoned” by God (ooops! sorry by the king) and he was taken to court again in 2005 due to comments made in an interview, and was banned from publishing "Demain" or "Doumane" for a period of ten years, as well as being given a heavy fine, (6) A court in Rabat sentenced Taoufik Bouachrine, editor of the independent daily Akhbar al-Youm, on politicized criminal charges, to six months in prison on charges of real estate and sales fraud, (7) Mohammed Attaoui, a correspondent for the Arabic daily "Al-Monataf", president of a local environmental NGO and an employee with the rural municipality of Tounfite, was sentenced on 22 March 2010 to two years in prison by a court in Midelt. And the list goes on and on. Who are we to judge Saudi Arabia? Or others? I would love to see Morocco Board, as a free media that REALLY LOVES Morocco and wants to fix things, publishing about the abuses in Morocco instead for us debating Saudi Arabia and its terrible monarchy. We must look at our problems and forget about Saudi Arabia and its archaic backward society and focus on our future.
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h Masiky
0 #4 @Roberth Masiky 2011-02-14 18:54
Thank you for the comments. My piece is about El-Mirazi and some hopeful signs that the Egyptian revolution would open up the Arab press , including in Morocco, to more freedom . In addition, I and other Moroccans wrote several article on MB debating freedom of the press in Morocco. Points well taken.
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Aziz El Alami
0 #5 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Saudi News Channel Sacks a Broadcaster for his Commentary on Egyptian RevolutionAziz El Alami 2011-02-14 20:40
@ Robert,

I don’t like Saudis for a variety of personal reasons and I took this opportunity to express how much I despise and resent them – That’s all.

That aside, I am impressed with the amount of data and research you were able to put forward regarding Morocco and Freedom of Speech… I don’t have time to verify its accuracy – but if it is true, then you on to something big my friend. You are “winning me over” a little bit at a time with each one of your posts. Keep up the good work.
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man en blanc
0 #6 Allah ya3ti el foul li ma3andouch snan.man en blanc 2011-02-14 23:45
Senor El Alami,
Your opinion on Saudi Arabia formed during your brief stay there is right on the money. I resided for almost three years in that wretched sand kingdom. And I can assure you, that calling them backward is an insult to backward people everywhere.
You might even get sued for libel. LOL

The Saudis went from the camel to the Rolls-Royce in ONE generation. But the culture clung, stubbornly to the camel era. Hence the schizophrenic absurdity of it all.

Some people argue that the Saudis are destined to take the trip back. As in back to the camel. Now, that would be justice!

I did get to do Al Hajj and a couple of 3omras though.
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Morcelli
0 #7 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Saudi News Channel Sacks a Broadcaster for his Commentary on Egyptian RevolutionMorcelli 2011-02-15 01:17
For those of you who claim to be Haj. Isn't the Haj supposed to be a cleanse of the soul?
It seems to me that you visited Mecca for the sole purpose of hating Ahl Saud.
Fill your heart with love and peace not hate.

Are we supposed to hate anyone who is rich? Like it or not, the Saudis help Muslims all over the world, including Morocco. It's a fact that you may hate but you cannot deny.

When the barrel of oil surpassed the $100/barrel and things start to get messed up in Morocco, the Saudis handed Morocco an easy no string attached $1.0 billion dollar and Algeria was hoping the the price hike of oil will topple the monarchy.

Keep you eyes on the ball dudes, the Saudi may be different from us culturally and "financially" but who spends the millions to screw up Morocco?
You don't have to look far to to see who is the real enemy.
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Aziz El Alami
0 #8 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Saudi News Channel Sacks a Broadcaster for his Commentary on Egyptian RevolutionAziz El Alami 2011-02-15 03:41
@Morcelli,
I went to Saudi Arabia on a Business Trip – not Haj.

Also, I didn’t say I hate them – I simply said I dislike them and called them S.O.B’s? that’s not hate – is it?

As for the “aid” you think Saudis are providing Morocco – It is nothing more than bribery or down payment for them to come and behave as they please in our Country.

They also smell bad – I am sure men en blanc can attest to that.
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Robert
0 #9 @AzizRobert 2011-02-15 04:30
Thanks for the complement. It took me 20-30 min to gather all the pieces of info about free speech in Morocco and related stories. Google, google and google is the answer. I also did my best to curate the information through examining the sources. I have been following Freedom of Speech in my beloved Morocco since I was teenager and it comes always to the obvious fact that our leader(s)(Hassa n II and M6) have something to hide; otherwise why fearing journalists. I hope Morocco Board will continue the noble mission of allowing our people to freely express themselves and bringing constructive criticism. It is unsettling to write negative things about own country and government but the truth is that Morocco has long way to go and we, Moroccan educated folk, should make the best use of our weapon of choice: the pen (keyboard in this case). Change is coming, I can smell it.
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man en blanc
0 #10 Been there. Done that! Bored to to tears! BUT AL HAJJ BELONGS TO ALL MUSLIMS!man en blanc 2011-02-15 10:46
I am so overwhelmed by The Saudis'generosity!
One must do little research. Just to gauge what the Saudis are getting in return for their "generosity" toward Morocco.

Does one ever stop and think about that old quid pro quo? It is in the Arab DNA!
Does one ever JUST think?

The Saudis are not financing projects in Morocco out of the goodness of their hearts. Did one forget their previous and everlasting legacies throughout the world?
A hint : Madrassas!
The gifts that keep on giving! Just ask the new Iraq!
The Saudis are NOT nice people!

If one suspects that Saudi money is permeating one's area, I would give, free of charge, the following two advices :

1. unload all your shares in these companies : Gilette, Bic, Remington... (they could be one and the same, too many damn mergers) anything to do with facial and body hair, or hygiene.

2. Pfizer. BUY! and whoever makes STD's remedies, cures, antibiotics...etc.

I can aver that Morocco is on the loosing end of the deal when it comes to the sand people!

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Morcelli
0 #11 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Saudi News Channel Sacks a Broadcaster for his Commentary on Egyptian RevolutionMorcelli 2011-02-15 21:02
@ my moroccoboardist Man en blanc,
Now that you stated you unequivocal hate for the Saudis, I like to say that I went to a madrassa, or as they call it in Morocco Jame3, All we did is learn the coran by heart and at the end of the week, 3ams (the teacher) would get some money, sometime some sugar (qaleb of sugar, the good old days).
I don't think that any of us who had attended a madrassa ever strapped a bomb around us and went on to hurt innocent lives.
Fox news would love to prove me wrong. I am sure you are smarted that and you know what I mean.
Through the madrassa I perfected the coran even though I never even knew the meaning of what was said but later on, I was able to figure out the meaning of what is said in the coran. Is this a bad thing?
As for the saudis benefiting the most from their generosity, I am not sure about that, If it is not for the Saudis, Algeria would have eaten you alive, The saudis helped you push the Polisario back, they financed many of the weapons that was paraded to us in la fete du throne.
They have done it out of the goodness of their heart? maybe not but they have done it.
The reason I feel this way is that I am not capable of hating anyone, I might argue I might even bark but hating another human being is just not something we should do.
I believe that every human being has something good to offer, remember that no one is perfect, but just like John Lennon said " give a peace a chance"
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