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“Do you support al-Qaeda’s attacks in Algeria?”

This was a Poll question on “Al Jazeera.Net”, carried in the same spirit and tradition as most online news polls, despite the nature of the question.

The difference here is that when it comes to its website’s surveys Al Jazeera.Net, has adopted a controversial methodology of asking controversial and taboo questions, which almost indicates that the source of the question is still undecided on issues relating to the “Al Qaeda” organization and terrorism in general.

The survey provoked and angered many, which was expressed through a storm of criticisms, particularly by the Algerian press and Algerian nationals working for “Al Jazeera”.

The poll question was simply trying to gauge the opinion of the website’s visitors regarding the killing of sixty Algerian civilians in two suicide bombings that took place in the past two weeks.

The apology by the website’s administrators does not change that fact that someone believed that this was a valid and logical question to ask, which highlights a debate that has been at the center of the “Al Jazeera” Channel’s controversies since its inception; is the killing of innocent people permissible under the banner of religion? And is provoking the Arab masses really the gateway to democracy?

After the public outcry over the poll question, “Al Jazeera” pulled the survey off of its website, with members of its editorial staff labeling the inclusion of the controversial question as a “professional error” on one occasion and a “journalistic endeavor” on another.

An apology and the removal of the survey is not enough, particularly when it comes to “Al Jazeera”, which needs to give out numerous apologies regarding the way it deals with issues relating to the terrorism of violent fundamentalist groups and especially in the manner it has gone overboard in provoking the masses and with it expanding the scope of hatred on all levels.

An error has occurred and the channel has a responsibility towards its viewers, online visitors, Algeria and all the innocent victims of fundamentalist violence.

The channel must clarify how this mistake happened, and what measures were taken against those responsible. But, for the website’s editor to label it as just a “journalistic endeavor” means that he believes that the issue of killing civilians is not totally condemnable!

What it described as an error is actually an oversight which results from the “Al Jazeera” Channel’s policy in the way it deals with issues relating to the “Al-Qaeda” movement.

The responsibility for the lack of public awareness regarding the enormity of death is an issue that goes far beyond the many achievements that the channel can rightly say it has accomplished since its inception, and moreover, the policy of generating public outcries and anger can not always be labeled as a freedom of speech exercise.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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