Prominent personalities taking part in the 9th Arab Media Forum, themed "spring of the Arab media," that got underway here on Monday called for free media in the Arab world to help peoples of the nation realize development and enrich culture.
Former Moroccan minister of foreign affairs Mohammad Bin Issa, who directed the first session of the forum, expressed his reservation at calling the dramatic events that toppled regimes in the Arab world as the "Arab spring," saying that normal springs cannot come with stormy weather. He also criticized the manner the Arab media covered these events.
Ali Al-Deqbasi, Chairman of the Arab Parliament, acknowledged that these popular uprisings that occurred in several Arab states "influenced the Arab media, but we need effective media that serve causes of the nation and face the Zionist media that falsify facts." He called for establishment of a joint Arab television channel to serve the common causes of the nation and criticized status of democracy and human rights in the Arab world. "We have remained in phase of discussing man's right to express opinions," the chairman of the parliament added.
For his part, Sameer Dilou, Tunisian Minister of Human Rights, Justice and Government Spokesman, said, "Arab spring was the spring of freedom, which we have attained, but the persistent question is, what is next?" Popular revolts that broke out in several Arab countries more than a year ago were widely dubbed "the Arab Spring," a term picked up as synonymous to the Prague Spring, when the defunct Czechoslovakia witnessed popular revolt against Soviet domination.
Dilou said reforming the media in the Arab world would warrant amending relevant laws and establishing independent foundations to function freely from government influence.
The Lebanese journalist, Khairallah Khairallah, questioned whether the Arab nation was really prepared to absorb the new culture, spreading with modern technology. "We need to fathom the fact that we are living outside the era of technological revolution, thus we are in a cultural crisis," he added.
Salah Muntaser, the renowned Egyptian writer, said the Arab revolts were aimed at ending rule of the military. He criticized the Arab media networks for promoting sensationalism in their coverage of the events for sake of competition.
Dr. Moahmmad Al-Shabbout, the head of the Iraqi media network, said the goal of the Arab spring should have been "establishment of free media that can build the culture of the civil state."