Forum: Media and Arab Revolutions - Role and Impact

Tue, 03/05/2011

The year 2010 was a year of social revolution in Europe and a year that paved the way for popular revolutions in various parts of the Arab World. As China sought to ignore these Arab revolutions, they were welcomed by the West, which chose to side with citizens rather than with leaders who ruled their own people with an outdated style of governance - using fear of Islamism to convince the West of their legitimacy.

It has become clear that the revolutions which took place in Tunisia and Egypt, and the uprisings that continue in Yemen, Libya and Syria, are likely to spread to other Arab countries. In the light of these social transformations and of international media organisations siding with the people, no Arab country remains immune from such revolutions.

It is still premature to speak of the possibility of conducting scientific analysis of the goals and achievements of these revolutions. However, the facts on the ground show that these revolutions came as suddenly as an earthquake. Arab revolutions quickly became great media fodder and were covered by news channels and various other media outlets, quenching Arab viewers' thirst for information.

Against this backdrop, the Doha Centre for Media Freedom organised on May 2nd a forum on the occasion of World Press Day under the title: “Media and Arab Revolutions: Role and Impact”

A number of journalists, academics and Media experts participated in the forum, which discussed the following subjects:

  • Satellite media - follow up of Arab revolutions despite obstacles (Mustafa Souag, Editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera Arabic channel)
  • Social media in times of media censorship (Dr. Ihab Francis Ilyas Kaldas, Qatar Computing Research, Professor of University of Waterloo, Canada)
  • The Arab viewer between media of the revolution and counter revolution media (Majed Abdelhadi,  Independent journalist)
  • Arab satellite channels - effective news coverage and lack of safeguards for reporter (Jan Keulen, director of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom)
  • Impact of the Tahrir Square Revolution on Egypt's media scene (Mrs. Enas Mohamed Abdelaalim, Almassaeya newspaper)
  •  Ambitions of Tunisian journalists on the eve of revolution (Rachid Khechana, Tunisian journalist and Human Rights activist)  

Recommendations

At the end of the event, the participants adopted the following recommendations:

  • The need to set up a legal frame work to protect New Media and enable it to become a reliable source of information
  • Calling on Arab regimes to stop pursuing, targeting and harassing journalists and New Media users and to comply with international conventions which guarantee journalists' right to access sites where events take place
  • Calling on Arab regimes to stop holding media outlets responsible for the events and developments which take place in their countries
  • Urging managers of media institutions to take all precautionary measures to guarantee the safety of journalists working in hotspots in line with relevant international standards 
  • Calling upon all Arab governments to put an end to their censorship policies, shutting down social networks and jamming satellite channels' signals as well as the arrest of bloggers, correspondents, cameramen and writers
  • Calling for the release of all journalists, correspondents and bloggers who are arrested by some Arab governments on charges of covering events in their countries
  • Urging global communication corporations and leading electronic websites not to succumb to governments' pressure and cut communication services at times of crisis 

The forum was concluded by a short ceremony to distribute diplomas to graduates of the Print & Broadcast training programme. The 5-day training course was organised by the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. 14 journalists from South Sudan took part in the course. 

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