Pan-Arab satellite channel launched to champion Palestinian cause
A NEW pan-Arab satellite TV station went on air yesterday, headed by the Tunisian journalist who quit Al-Jazeera in protest over what he saw as bias against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The Beirut-based station Al-Mayadeen, Arabic for “The Squares”, says it aims to counter the influence of the popular Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya networks, both funded by oil-rich Sunni Gulf Arab countries that have backed the uprising in Lebanon’s neighbour Syria. It promises to support the Palestinian cause and all forms of “resistance” – a term usually used to describe the powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other groups that fight Israel.
Al-Mayadeen is headed by Ghassan bin Jiddo, who quit Qatar-based Al-Jazeera last year in anger over its reporting of the uprising in Syria. Since the revolt began 15 months ago, some Arabs accused Al-Jazeera of whipping up public opinion against Assad’s regime. The station hopes to capitalise on the schism in the Arab world between Gulf Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who are at odds with Iran and Syria and have called for international military intervention against Assad.
“We are not a channel that speaks in the name of Iran or the Syrian regime. We are a completely independent channel which reflects reality as it is,” bin Jiddo said at a news conference, adding that the channel will champion Arab nationalist causes, notably that of the Palestinians. “We will fight sectarianism and stand against colonialism and foreign intervention… The station’s compass will always be turned to Palestine and the resistance,” he said. Syria considers itself part of a “resistance” axis against Israel and the West, together with its allies, Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group.
Said to be funded by a group of unidentified Arab businessmen, the channel has attracted journalists from across the Arab world and beyond. George Galloway MP will host a weekly show called A Free Word.
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