The Fatah Youth movement organized a peaceful protest outside the Qatari Al Jazeera TV channel offices in Ramallah last week. The demonstration was in response to an Al Jazeera guest speaker’s verbal attack on the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, also known as Abu Ammar.
Arafat, who died in 2004, is considered a martyr and symbol of pride for many Palestinians. The Palestinian riot police outnumbered the protestors who pushed against their shields, attempting to enter the Al Jazeera offices.
Ibrahim Hammami, a London-based Palestinian political analyst, called the late Palestinian president a traitor on Al Jazeera TV. The TV station did not follow up on the verbal assault.
“The silence of the anchor in the face of Arafat’s insults is an implied approval. Al Qasem could have said that the channel doesn’t approve with the opinion that was said during the show,” a protestor said.
Diana Atallah reported on The Media Line that Al Jazeera was once seen to bear Arab national causes, especially following its intensive coverage of the second Palestinian uprising from 2000 to 2005. Ahallah continued, that more recently, people are questioning Al-Jazeera’s objectivity.
This includes Walid Al Shurafa, a media professor at Birzeit University in Ramallah, who published a study arguing that Al Jazeera uses propaganda techniques, fabricates stories, and designs campaigns to lobby its audience.
Al Jazeera is considered by some, a pro-Israel traitor working against the Palestinian Authority. Amna Mustafa, a 33-year-old protestors stated, “I came to say I reject the Zionist-American conspiracy that is being waged through Al Jazeera channel by insulting and distorting the national figures and symbols.”
Hassan Faraj, head of the Fatah Youth Movement in the West Bank told The Media Line reporters that his movement is not against freedom of speech: “Al Jazeera is not practicing objectivity. The freedom of speech and media doesn’t involve insulting the martyrs, particularly Yasser Arafat, who spent all of his life and died defending the Palestinian cause.”