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Journalism and the worst acquisition - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In Tunisia, the Arab Spring scene is no longer blooming, whilst media freedoms are not where they should be. The Ennahda Movement’s garment seems to have shrunk in the wash, and this is no longer able to contain a few democratic jests, despite the fact that these are the product of freedom, which is precisely what Sheikh Ghannouchi had been calling for.

The “humanitarian” president Moncef Marzouki, who is completely committed to the leftist revolutionary trend, has finally paid attention to the fact that the Ennahda movement is seeking to control the state, portraying itself as if it were one of Mother Theresa’s charities that is making political and public donations for free! It is as if the Ennahda movement is trying to portray itself as something other than a political party that is seeking to fulfil its ambitions, rise to power, and attain strength and eternity, like all other parties, no matter how much their political slogans might differ!

The media front remained outside of the Ennahda movement’s house, and so the movement’s supporters responded by staging demonstrations demanding that the media should be “cleansed” of the counter-revolutionary remnants. This is not surprising, as the Ennahda movement is capable of inciting the masses who remain intoxicated by the dreams of the rise of an Islamic Caliphate. This was something that was made apparent in the previous statements issued during the Arab Spring by leader Ennahda figure, Prime Minister Hamad Jebali. This same rhetoric and dream was also expressed by Sheikh Ghannouchi himself who later went on to “reinterpret” the term “caliphate”, in a scene that we have seen repeated numerous times.

Mobilizing the masses and then avoiding them and officially denying responsibility for this is a tactic that is used by both the Ennahda movement in Tunisia and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In fact, they have every right to do so, because legally, this is considered ordinary public mobility, along the lines of the “spontaneous” march towards the Egyptian Media Production City in protest against a set of television programs that were unaffiliated to the Brotherhood. At this time, a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader live on air claimed that the Brotherhood had nothing to do with these protests, and called on the television channels themselves to convince the demonstrators. In other words, manage our masses yourself!

Following this, the judiciary made its move as was made apparent in the case raised against the Editor-in-Chief of Egypt’s Al-Dustour newspaper, not to mention the head of Ettounsiya TV Sami Fehri. According to Fehri’s lawyer, his client was brought before the Attorney General and then imprisoned. This was after an arrest warrant had been issued for Fehri’s arrest as a result of a satirical television show that sent up figures such as Ghannouchi, Jebali and Marzouki.

Generally speaking, as expressed by Mohamed Shoman in his al-Hayat column a few days ago, the battle to “brotherize” the media will be a difficult one, and this will be no easy task, for a number of reasons. The most prominent reason is that media freedoms have been launched in an unruly manner, and this has become even more uncontrollable thanks to the Arab Spring itself, which brought the Islamists to power. This means that the Arab Spring has been a source of delight for more than one party, not least the media representatives.

This new governmental antagonism towards the media is like ploughing the sea. As an Arab poet once said:

Antagonizing poets is the worst acquisition.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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