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Al Jazeera's attacks on Syria: some background

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Al Jazeera's attacks on Syria: some background

 

What you will NOT hear on Al Jazeera (English): the Salafi slogan of the NATO-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA): "Christians to Beirut, Alawis to the grave'

 

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Changes at Al Jazeera after the Iraq invasion, 2003

After the Iraq invasion in 2003, Baghdad bureau chief Faisal Yasiri was replaced by Wadah Khanfar, a Palestinian born man who had been reporting from Afghanistan. Yasiri says Al Jazeera's Islamist influences were "creating tension to fit their beliefs and increase the differences between people'. Khanfar replaced the secular head of Al Jazeera Mohammed Jassem Ali and, according to former Al Jazeera correspondent Shaker Hamid, the channel "became a platform for (Sunni) extremists " There is clear sectarianism in Iraq, and Al Jazeera takes the Sunni side' (Gillespie 2007).

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Wadah Khanfar as Director General of the Al Jazeera network (2007-2011) has agreed that Islam rose in the news but denied that Al Jazeera had become Islamist. "Maybe you have more Islamic voices [on the network] because of the political reality on the ground'; but he claimed their channel maintained diversity of views. However researcher Kristen Gillespie points out that, on the network, "Sunni religious figures are almost always treated deferentially as voices of authority on almost any issue" (Gillespie 2007).

 

Hafez Al-Mirazi, Al-Jazeera's Washington bureau chief denounced the channel's Islamist drift in an interview with the daily Al Hayat in June 2007, saying:

"Al-Jazeera has crossed the line " [in] the Wadah Khanfar era there was a dramatic change, especially because of him selecting assistants who are hardline Islamists' (Ferjani 2010).

 

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"Arab Spring': Qatar and Al Jazeera push "regime change'

After the events in Egypt and Tunisia, the Government of Qatar, with the US, pushed hard for "regime change' in Libya and Syria, promoting stories of "regime atrocities' to press the demand for foreign military intervention and "regime change'.

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Tim Anderson is an academic and social activist based in Sydney, Australia

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