Speak of the Devil…

That was fast. Only a few minutes after posting this, look what I found: Hamza Al Mozainy is very disappointed at Sheikh Salman Al Awdah for an article about Eid Al Fitr that he wrote for Al Jazirah daily which included what can be considered hate speech. Al Mozainy has denounced in particular the use of the term ‘raifdah’ to describe Shiite Muslims. “[I]t is not meant as a description but rather discrimination against a group of Muslim Saudi citizens,” he said.

Just like Al Mozainy, I found it very surprising that Al Awdah, a sheikh that has become known for his moderation and tolerance, would say something like that. I wanted to make sure there wasn’t some sort of a misunderstanding or misquoting, so I went to Al Jazirah website to read the article myself. You can find it here, and unfortunately that paragraph Al Muzaini quoted is there.

Still, I had a feeling that there was something wrong. I went to Islam Today, a website supervised by Salman Al Awdah himself, where you can find most of his published articles and media appearances. I found the same article, but the paragraph about the Shiites was no where to be found. What is going on here? Did Al Awdah write that paragraph or not? Is it possible that an editor in Al Jazirah has added the paragraph to the article without the knowledge of Al Awdah?

In an email exchange earlier this morning, Al Mozainy told me it is unlikely that someone at Al Jazirah would have the audacity to edit the article. However, “it is the responsibility of Al Awdah to clarify this,” he added. I have emailed Sheikh Salman Al Awdah asking about the issue and I have yet to receive a response. If he responded I will update this post.

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Poor Journalism Says Hi

I’ve been following the local mainstream media closely for the last three years. One of the things that I observed is that some of the English-language press here do a better job when it comes to reporting important and controversial local stories. Part of this has to do with the fact that they are in English so they are not under the radar of the censorship, but more importantly because their editors are usually committed to higher standards than their peers in the Arabic ones.

arab_news_logoHowever, every once in awhile the very same publications come up with gems like this which make me reconsider that observation. Other than some unknown market analysts, the reporter relied completely for his story on one source only: the owner of a company that runs a few of these amusement parks and who apparently looks forward to open more of them. And why not? I mean he, after all, was the one who said his “centers were located in attractive places, close to beaches and residential areas” as well as being “equipped with advanced educational and entertainment facilities.”

This piece of lousy reporting, and believe me I’m being way too nice to describe it as reporting when it sounds like a paid for commercial more than anything else, makes me lose my hope in the future of the fourth estate in this country. When I spent two weeks in the States last September I decided to take a break from the Saudi MSM while I was there and guess what? I didn’t miss it that much.