A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Shoot the Messenger, Part Three

Ben Ali blamed sinister foreign media, while his controlled press targeted Al Jazeera by name, at a time when Al Jazeera didn't even have a bureau in Tunis. Mubarak's police raided the Al Jazeera offices and forced then nearly underground. Now, between Tunisia and Egypt, in Libya, where major demonstrations and clashes occurred in Benghazi yesterday, state TV has been showing people denouncing Al Jazeera, blaming it for subverting the great Jamahiriyya, and, well, just because.

Shoot the messenger: the first recourse of the trembling tyrant. Having grown up in a border state during the Civil Rights revolution in the US, I'm quite familiar with the line that all the troubles are caused by "outside agitators." Al Jazeera; the Amir of Qatar's plot to spread democratic revolutions? (Now the King of Bahrain, with his island's historic dynastic rivalry, might have a case, but the Brother Leader of the Revolution in Libya?)

A wise man, in fact a Middle Easterner, once said that ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Al Jazeera doesn't always get it right, but the more scared you are of a free media, the more we suspect you have to hide.

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