This week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup looks at several important issues affecting the Middle East and North Africa mediascape. A chemical attack in Idlib, Syria caused the death of many civilians, resulting in competing media narratives on the nature of the attack and those injured. US President Trump’s missile strike in Syria caused mixed feelings among supporters and opponents of Trump in the US and abroad, with some arguing that his decision violated Syria’s national sovereignty.
In Egypt, President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi declared a state of emergency following attacks on two Coptic churches in the country during Palm Sunday, urging the media to report “responsibly.” A Palestinian activist, Bassem Tamimi, had his Australian visa canceled on the eve of his speaking his tour, with the Australian government citing fears of “adverse” reactions to Tamimi’s speech.
On the cultural front, editor and writer Joobin Bekhrad writes in Jadaliyya about a tendency among Western news outlets to compare Iranian artists like Forough Farrokhzad and Sadegh Hedayat to Western counterparts, noting that such tropes are disrespectful and disempowering to the artists.
All these stories and more can be found below.
Media and Politics
State of emergency declared in Egypt
Source: Middle East Monitor (MEMO)
Egyptian president Abdelfattah Al-Sisi declared a state of emergency following ISIS-orchestrated attacks on two Coptic churches in the country during Palm Sunday. Al-Sisi urged the media to report responsibly and refrain from any coverage deemed “harmful” to national unity.
Sadr becomes first Iraqi Shi`ite leader to urge Assad to step down
In a statement issued by Iraq’s Shiite-led government, prominent cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to "take a historic heroic decision" and step down. According to the article, the statement represents “the difficult balancing act” the Iraqi government maintains between its US and Iran alliances.
Laptop ban, Brexit implications to affect Mideast airlines: IATA
Source: Xinhua English
The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) CEO Alexandre de Juniac noted that Brexit and the recent “laptop ban” is likely to dampen demand for Middle Eastern airlines, noting that the restrictions were “a missed opportunity.”
Assad : Soit la victoire, soit la Syrie sera rayée de la carte
Source: L’Orient Le Jour
In an interview with the Croatian daily Vecernji List, Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad allegedly stated that “there is no choice but victory” in the ongoing civil war, or else Syria will be “wiped off the map.”
Syria chemical weapons attack toll rises to 70 as Russian narrative is dismissed
Source: The Guardian
Competing narratives surround a recent chemical attack in Idlib, Syria. According to this article, the Syrian government “categorically denied” responsibility and the Russian defense ministry stated that a Syrian airstrike had hit a “terrorist warehouse” containing an arsenal of “toxic substances,” while Western governments claimed it was undoubtedly a sarin attack.
Social media profiles turn yellow over Syria chemical attack
Source: The New Arab
The chemical attack in Syria’s northern province of Idlib prompted several users on Facebook and Twitter to change their profile pictures to a yellow color, symbolizing toxic gas, and use the hashtag #SyriaGasAttack.
After Xi leaves U.S., Chinese media assail strike on Syria
Source: New York Times
According to the article, China’s state-run media “was free to denounce” the US’s missile attack on Syria after Chinese president Xi Jinping’s safe departure from the US, following a quick meeting with president Trump.
Jeremy Scahill slams Fareed Zakaria on CNN: "If he could have sex with that missile strike, he would"
The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill criticized Western media’s coverage of the Syria missile strikes on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” calling out Fareed Zakaria in particular for his allegedly congratulatory tone regarding the strike.
Arabs praise "Abu Ivanka" aka Trump for Syria strike and #AmericaIsOverParty fears army draft
Several Arab users on social media networks praised US president Trump, or “Abu Ivanka,” after he ordered the first direct military action against Syrian government forces. Conversely, North American social media users used the hashtag #AmericaIsOverParty to express fears of negative repercussions to the military move.
"سبوتنيك" تختلق: "الخوذات البيض" قتلوا أطفال خان شيخون بالأدرينالين!
نشر موقع "سبوتنيك" الروسي أنّ الضحايا الذين سقطوا في هجمات خان شيخون، إدلب قتلوا من قبل منظمة "الخوذات البيض" عبر جرعات من الأدرينالين و ليس بالسلاح الكيماوي. بحسب المقالة، ردت منظمة "أطباء سويديون لحقوق الإنسان" من خلال بيان أوضحت فيه عدم صحّة الادعاءات.
#هنا_دمشق_من_القاهرة: ربحتُ ترامب ولم أخسر بوتين!
يقول الكاتب أحمد ندا أنّ الهاشتاغ #هنا_دمشق_من_القاهرة التي انطلقت عبر مواقع التواصل الإجتماعي بعدما أعلنت الإدارة الأميركية عن قصفها لمطار الشعيرات تعيد ذاكرة الشعارات القومية العربية الفارغة خلال حقبة جمال عبد الناصر.
Start-up generation rises in the UAE
Source: The National
Writer Mustafa Alrawi speaks to US investor and author Christopher Scrhoeder regarding the start-up scene in the Middle East and UAE more specifically who believes that deals such as Amazon buying Souq are the beginning of an entrepreneurial boom in the UAE.
Saudi Arabia to build entertainment city near Riyadh
Source: Al Jazeera
In line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the government announced its plans to build an entertainment city south of the capital, Riyadh, which is set to host cultural and recreational facilities.
ما هي أكثر الدول تصديراً للتكنولوجيا المتقدمة في العالم العربي؟
تتداول المقالة الصناعات التكنولوجية المتقدمة في العالم العربي، موضحة أنّ نصيب العالم العربي من هذا السوق العالمي لا يزال صئيلاً. بحسب دراسات أجراها البنك الدولي، حافظت دولتي المغرب و تونس على الريادة العربية في مجال تصدير التكنولوجيا المتقدمة بينما شهدت أغلب الدول الخليجية تطوراً نوعياً في حجم صادراتها من التكنولوجيا المتقدّمة كنتيجة الإمكانات المالية الهائلة التي تملكها هذه الدول من عائدات النفط والغاز.
Freedom of Journalists/Expression
Palestinian activist`s Australian visa cancelled on eve of speaking tour
Source: The Guardian
Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi’s Australian visa was canceled on the eve of his speaking tour, with the Australian government claiming that the event may cause members of the public to “react adversely” to Tamimi’s work.
Rouhani government criticizes IRGC arrests of journalists
Source: Al Monitor
Members of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet openly criticized the arrests of Reformist journalists and online activists leading up to the coming election.
Campaigners go on offensive against bogus UK anti-Semitism definition
Source: Electronic Intifada
The UK government adopted a definition of “anti-semitism” deemed offensive by many Palestinian and human rights organizations, claiming that it has no legal status and encourages increased repression on freedom of expression.
A human rights advocate shares seven ways you can help Syria’s chemical attack victims right now
Eeman Abbasi, a human rights advocate and co-founder of Syrian refugee non-profit "More Than 10,000" shared seven steps on Twitter for helping the cause, including donating to organizations working on the ground in Syria and those helping refugees.
Arab TV station pulls women`s campaign, and the "appropriated" LGBT rainbow
Saudi-funded MBC 4 apologized and pulled a TV campaign on women’s freedom following the social media backlash it received, claiming that too much freedom can “spread chaos.”
#KushnerAtWar has social media mocking Donald Trump’s son-in-law over attire for Iraq trip
Source: Business 2 Community
Social media users first cried “fake news” regarding Jared Kushner’s visit to Iraq, then used the hashtag #KushnerAtWar to mock Kushner over his attire during the Iraq trip.
Can good television beat the Islamic State?
Source: Chicago Tribune
Middle East media group MBC is allegedly collaborating with television writers and showrunners in the US to create “compelling” and progressive media narratives that can potentially combat the Islamic State’s harmful ideology.
Arab News to host panel on "Middle East’s perception problem"
Source: Arab News
Arab News is hosting a panel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia titled “The Middle East’s perception problem” as part of the Top CEO Conference and Awards, which looks to examine the MENA region’s image in the “West.”
في الأردن، «اللهو الخفي» يحجب أرشيف الإنترنت
يتحدّث المقال عن موقع «أرشيف الإنترنت» الذي يتضمن عدداً هائلاً من الكتب المجانية بعدّة لغات، منهم اللغة العربية، و الذي حُجب لمستخدمي الإنترنت في الأردن من قبل السلطات الأردنية.
Moment of Glory
The writer argues that comparing Iranian artists like Forough Farrokhzad and Sadegh Hedayat to Western counterparts is disrespectful and disempowering, noting that such artists were brilliant precisely because they were unique in their own rights.
How Trump is making Iran great again–-through arts & culture
Writer Joobin Bekhrad argues that Trump’s foreign policy, most notably his travel bans, are positively impacting Iranian art and culture in the US and abroad, citing the New York Museum of Modern Art’s replacement of permanent exhibitions with works of artists from the seven banned countries as an example.
Renowned Israeli-Arab rapper gets past firebrand culture minister and heads for Netflix
Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar, star of the film “Junction 48,” speaks about the influences of renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish on his music and the lack of positive Arab representation in mainstream Israeli TV. The article notes that “Junction 48” was acquired by Netflix and will begin streaming this summer.
New documentary on comedian Bassem Youssef follows Arab Spring turmoil
Source: Middle East Online
A new documentary titled “Tickling Giants” chronicles Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef’s life during the Arab Spring turmoil and is set to premiere this coming Friday in Los Angeles.
UK DJ apologises for mixing call to prayer at Tunisian dance event
Source: Middle East Eye
British DJ, Dax J, expressed his apologies after he played a dance remix of the Muslim call to prayer. He was sentenced in absentia to a year in jail in Tunisia on charges of public indecency and offending public morality.
From Jadaliyya Media Roundups
Hamas "would accept Palestine state within 1967 borders"
Source: Jadaliyya Palestine Media Roundup
Lebanese TV channel, Al Mayadeen, leaked a document allegedly stating that Hamas would recognize the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.
China`s Saudi drone factory compensates for US ban
Source: Jadaliyya Arabian Peninsula Roundup
China has a made a deal with Saudi Arabia to manufacture drones at a factory in the Kingdom, an agreement that forms part of a $60bn deal decided upon during King Salman’s visit to China in February.
[The "Media On Media Roundup" is an initiative to survey published material in the news and broadcast media that deals with journalism, coverage, or mass communication practices about the region. These roundups are produced and curated in collaboration with the American University of Beirut`s Media Studies Program. The items collected here do not reflect the views of Jadaliyya or the editors of the Media Page.]