Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Silence strike! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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We are witnessing a general state where concepts, terminology and even peaceful expressions of protest are being distorted. There is also a frightening distortion regarding the concepts of democracy and republic in the Arab world, and how these two concepts should truly be. The final distortion that we are witnessing in our region is regarding the concept of the hunger strike!

Here we see the director of the Iranian Al-Alam TV in Egypt announcing an open-ended hunger strike due to the Egyptian authorities shutting down the Iranian television channel’s offices in Cairo. The director of the Iranian television channel’s Cairo offices is claiming that the Egyptian authorities are suppressing freedom of expression, whilst the Egyptian authorities are claiming that the Iranian station does not have a broadcast license. In this case, what has rights, their suppression and all such clichés got to do with anything when this blocked Iranian television station does not have a broadcast license in the first place? Even if the station made a request for a broadcast license, and the Egyptian authorities refused to grant this, then this is normal and part of the powers of the Egyptian authorities, indeed this is one of their most basic rights.

We also saw the British government deciding to quietly withdraw the broadcast license of Iran’s English-language Press TV; however nobody – of course – can say that this means that Britain is muzzling the media! Following the British ban, the German authorities took the decision to remove Press TV from a satellite network broadcasting to the country, and nobody said anything about the German authorities. On the other hand we do not see any Arab television station’s operating freely on Iranian soil, whilst Arab or foreign journalists or correspondents are also not allowed to operate freely in Iran, however despite all of this we do not hear any voice of criticism regarding what the Iranian authorities are doing against the Arab and foreign media there. In fact, the number of newspapers in Iran that have been shut down since Ahmadinejad came to power is greater than the average number of newspapers in most countries!

This is not all, for during the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009, the Iranian authorities suddenly decided, without warning, to expel all international correspondents in the country, even those who had licenses from the authorities, simply because Tehran had taken the decision to suppress the uprising and did not want any media coverage of this, whilst nobody at the time said anything about this! Today we see Iran providing all manner of support to the regime of the tyrant of Damascus, not just to kill the Syrian people, but also to block Arab satellite television channels, disrupt internet services and block websites, in order to allow the Bashar al-Assad regime to suppress the Syrian people away from the prying eyes of the international community: so where are those pleading for freedom of expression in this regard?

Unfortunately, these are all part of operations to mislead, distort and confuse, otherwise how can anybody compare the hunger strike being carried out over the closure of an unlicensed Iranian television station with the hunger strike being carried out by Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, particularly when anybody who works in the media and respects its professionalism is aware of the extent of the deception and trickery that characterizes most Iranian media outlets, including news agencies, television channels, newspapers and others?

Therefore, one finds themselves obliged to tell the supporters of Iran within our own ranks – or shall we say the fifth column – as well as those who are concerned in general with human rights activists and others going on hunger strike: please, should you decide to go on hunger strike, why don’t you also take a vow of silence, for this will be more useful!