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The Islamist (MB) Takeover of Al Jazeera?
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report (free subscription required) has an interesting look at the growing Islamist agenda of the al Jazeera TV station, and the roots of the shift in the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is an important observation since so much of the Arab world-as well as the Western media-look to the station to portray and interpret events, particularly the Hamas-Israeli conflict.

It is easy to forget (and shockingly seldom reported) that Hamas is an organic part of the global Muslim Brotherhood, according to article 2 of its own charter. So that the Ikhwan would seek to control the main medium for the outside world to interpret the conflict is not at all unusual.

The report looks at Wadah Khanfar (aka Waddah Khanfar), the station’s General Manager, as the driving force behind al Jazeera's move toward embracing the Islamist agent, while marginalizing other voices in the station that once had a significant role.

In October 2006, one of Al Jazeera’s own correspondents stated that Mr. Khanfar had a Muslim Brotherhood background and asked him about it directly, receiving a non-denial and evasive reply:

Mr. Waddah, you have and Islamic background, specifically Muslim Brotherhood, don’t you think that this is conflicting with your position as a head of the biggest Arab media organization now?

In fact, I do not classify myself as belonging to a certain political ideological movement, this is firstly an important issue which is very ..

(interrupting) ..Or you were belonging ..

I think that firstly I belong to this Nation including its collective legacy and mind, and that this something I value and am keen on it, but I tell you clearly and frankly, Aljazeera taught us always that our affiliation to Aljazeera- as an administration or press- is an affiliation to an institution with deep-rooted rules and with a clear identity based primarily on proficiency and respecting the opinion and the other opinion, and it isn’t absolutely based on differentiating between people on ideological, intellectual or party bases.

Interestingly, it was the Nation Magazine article from 2007 that first reported on the growing Islamist agenda of the TV station.

Whether it’s reporting the Hamas perspective from the occupied territories without mention of the Palestinian Authority’s version of events, or the fawning depiction elsewhere of Islamist parties and militias as the grassroots reflection of Arab sentiment, Al Jazeera has moved away from its ideologically diverse origins to a more populist/Islamist approach. After the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Al Jazeera replaced its longtime secular bureau chief in Baghdad, Faisal Yasiri, with Wadah Khanfar, who had reported from Afghanistan after the American invasion in 2001 and then Kurdish-controlled territory as the war with Iraq was launched in 2003. Shortly thereafter, the secular head of Al Jazeera, Mohammed Jassem Ali, was ousted and replaced by Khanfar, whom nine current and former employees of the station interviewed for this article characterize as an Islamist. It was around this time that Jazeera’s Iraq bureau “became a platform for [Sunni] extremists,” says Shaker Hamid, a secular Jazeera correspondent in Baghdad from 1997 to 2000, who left to work at another Arab satellite station after getting what he says was a better offer. “I can’t say that Jazeera’s rhetoric is completely against Shiites,” Hamid says. “The Americans introduced this, but the media should not make it worse, and Jazeera did.”

I am all for freedom of expression and the rights of others to get their message out. But I am also in favor of full disclosure of ownership and interests. Al-Jazeera is losing its right to claim to represent different voices, because the Islamist agenda has made it increasingly difficult for any other voices to be heard.
POSTED BY DOUGLAS FARAH
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