Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Omar Alghabra defended a terrorist group?

Canada: A followup on Omar who seems to be on a roll trying to bully Canadian blogs and looking to sue people. Western Standard blog brings up an interesting complaint by Omar when he was the president of Canadian Arab Federation about CanWest publications describing certain groups as terrorists. He claimed this was an anti-Arab/Muslim reporting bias. This happened last year.

The National Council on Canada-Arab Relations and the Canadian Arab Federation made their demands yesterday after CBC Radio reported that CanWest publications, including the Post and the Ottawa Citizen, inserted the word "terrorist" into a Middle East story reported by wire service agency Reuters, and substituted the word "terrorist" for such words as "militant" and "insurgent" in an Associated Press story. "This is another troubling example of clear bias by CanWest publications like the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen in applying different standards towards Arabs and Muslims when reporting," said the council's executive director, Mazen Chouaib. Federation president Omar Alghabra echoed the concern. "CanWest, one of the largest media conglomerates in Canada, is failing its responsibility towards all Canadians, not just Arabs and Muslims," he said. "The media has moral and ethical obligations to report the facts when it comes to news reporting, not the opinions of their editors."
The story in question contained this from the same press release via the NCCAR
Mr. Naru said Reuters strives for "the absence of emotion in [its] vocabulary, so that events may be judged dispassionately." The CBC, which has had especially fractious relations with CanWest Global in the past three years, reported on the issue after anonymous sources pointed out that a story in the Sept. 14 National Post had been changed from what Reuters originally submitted. The Post article, filed from Jerusalem and carrying the byline "Jeffrey Heller, Reuters, with files from Agence France-Presse," described the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades of the West Bank as "a terrorist group that has been involved in a four-year-old campaign of violence against Israel." The Reuters original story referred to "the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, which has been involved in a four-year revolt against Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank." Scott Anderson, editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen, said yesterday that such changes were consistent with an internal style guide that CanWest Global newspapers and TV stations adopted in the spring of this year "to define the language we use as news organizations when covering terrorism and terror-related violence." Mr. Anderson, who helped draw up the guide, noted that the Citizen does not subscribe to Reuters. He acknowledged there is no consensus among journalists and journalistic organizations on how to use such terminology "without appearing to take sides." But, citing the guide, Mr. Anderson said CanWest believes it is possible and necessary to use words such as "terrorist" and "terrorism" in a commonsense way that ensures balance, technical accuracy and political neutrality. The guide suggests CanWest editors and journalists should first consult the Canadian government's official list of terrorist organizations before using a word such as "terrorist." However, they should not be entirely beholden to the list as "violent sub-national groups appear and re-appear all the time with new names." The CanWest position raised the ire yesterday of the Canadian Arab Federation and the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations, as they called for an investigation of what they deemed CanWest's "troubling practice of biased reporting." In a joint statement, they said CanWest is pursuing "a perceived anti-Arab agenda" and "applying different standards towards Arabs and Muslims when reporting." Colombia's FARC guerrilla movement, they noted, is on Ottawa's terrorism list but CanWest's newspapers do not describe it as such. News organizations such as Canadian Press and Reuters have tended to shy away from using "terrorist" and related terms. While they don't ban their use, they usually follow the advice contained in guides such as the Canadian Press style book.
The al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades has a very murderous and bloody history in the short amount of time it has formed and is recognized as a terrorist group, especially considering joint efforts with Hamas and Hezbollah along with sending out children suicide bombers. It would be very disturbing to me to see any Muslim has tried to soften and defend the image of such a vile group, especially one who is running for public office in a western country.

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