Al-Jazeera Channel Wins Anti-Censorship Award

Topic started by AlJazeera Viewer (@ on Sat Mar 29 06:37:13 .
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Al-Jazeera wins anti-censorship award,7493,922496,00.html

Ciar Byrne - Thursday March 27, 2003

Al-Jazeera: 'A reputation for credible news among Arab viewers'

Al-Jazeera, the Arab TV satellite channel whose war coverage has angered the US, has been awarded a prestigious prize for upholding freedom of expression.
The Qatar-based channel won the award for the best circumvention of censorship at Index on Censorship's third annual Freedom of Expression Awards last night.

The judges, including the former Channel 4 news presenter Sheena McDonald and the Daily Mail's veteran foreign reporter Ann Leslie, said: "Al-Jazeera's apparent independence in a region where much of the media is state run has transformed it into the most popular station in the Middle East."

"Its willingness to give opposition groups a high-profile platform has left it with a reputation for credible news among Arab viewers. But that same quality has enraged Arab governments and the US - which have sought to have the station more closely controlled."

The executive director of al-Jazeera's London bureau, Muftah Al Suwaidan, said the station was "proud" to receive the award from "such a prestigious organisation, which has as its core concern the well being and the development of our profession, and the maintenance of professional integrity".

"Since its inception, al-Jazeera has been at the forefront of the struggle to maintain free, independent and balanced reporting," said Mr Al Suwaidan. "Different people have different views but the common denominator should always remain to be the right of people to know and the freedom of all to express themselves."

Al-Jazeera caused a furore when it broadcast shocking images of Iraqi and American victims of the conflict, including pictures of captured US soldiers and of the head of a child, aged about 12, that had been split apart, reportedly in the US-led assault on Basra in southern Iraq.

However, subscriptions to the Arabic language channel in Europe have doubled since the war began, indicating there is considerable demand for an alternative to western news channels.

BBC correspondent Fergal Keane was the recipient of an award for outstanding commitment to journalistic integrity for his work in Zimbabwe and in Africa in general.

Speaking via a video-link from the Iraqi border, Keane said: "I want you to know how happy I am to receive this award".

He quoted a line from Northern Irish poet Michael Longley, who wrote: "Who was it who said that the opposite of war is not so much peace as civilisation?"

Jonathan Moyo, the Zimbabwean minister of information, was presented with the golden raspberry award for services to censorship.

Accepting the award on Mr Moyo's behalf, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell described him as "the Dr Goebbels of Zimbabwe politics".


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