Nervana Mahmoud criticizes the Western Media’s unbalanced portrayal of the Qatar crisis
The behaviour of those Western media outlets reminds me of a similar pattern in Arabic media that I have witnessed from a very young age. Whenever a crisis emerged in the region between Arab states, Arab pundits and newspaper editorial boards took sides and started to shower opponents with accusations. The result has always been a constant state of polarization and confusion in which public opinion is shaped by distorted truth. I grew up yearning for the day I could read Western editorials and opinion pieces, assuming (rather naively) that the level of depth and professionalism would be much better. And it was; when I first moved to England, reading the printed editions of most prominent American and British outlets was simply a pleasure. Depth and nuance and covering various angles of conflicts have always been the staples of Western journalism.
Not any more. Recently a new trend has emerged, in which liberal journalists seem to think that defending Islamism, particularly after the failure of the various Arab uprisings, is a moral duty against the various autocratic leaders in the Middle East. Editorials defending political Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its patron nations like Qatar has become a recurring theme. Legitimate accusations against Islamists are downplayed, dismissed, or ignored altogether. Balance, nuance, and depth in covering the region’s complex crises have become a rarity these days; shallowness, instead, is now the journalistic neo-norm. The easy way to defend the Brotherhood Islamism and its patron Qatar is to write about Saudi Salafism and Egypt’s Sisi oppression. Both are indeed facts, but both are also part of a complex and intertwined net of events in which Islamists are not innocent victims.
Qatar’s support of the Brotherhood’s style of Islamism is problematic mainly because of its deceptive faux moderate veneer and its disingenuous support of democracy, while it is as autocratic and oppressive as the autocratic leadership they claim to oppose. If Qatar is truly moderate, it will not tolerate Al-Jazeera Arabic’s open sectarian tone, and it will not allow its Doha- based anchors and scholars to spread hatred and xenophobia. Since 2011, none of the Qatar-based activists, pundits, or scholars has once advocated harmony or reconciliation; instead they feed more anger, hatred, and division.
I despise Qatar and Saudi equally, so I don’t take sides. I’m just sitting here, eating popcorn, watching them pelt each other with their own filth.