Al Jazeera staffer quits over Qatar influence

News channel's Berlin correspondent says he has resigned because of gov't influence
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Staff writer
Thu 27 Dec 2012 10:37 AM

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Berlin, Aktham Suliman, resigned from the Doha based news channel because of the Qatari government's influence over the channel's reporting, according to an interview he gave to Germany's Deutsche Welle.

"It's possible that it does have an agenda, but of course no one makes it clear. The thing is that, if you're professional, you can deal with an agenda. If the employees, the editors or the owners had one and tried to impose it, professionalism would ensure that this didn't happen at the cost of high quality journalistic product," Suliman who reported for the pan Arab channel for ten years told DW, according to a transcript of interview posted on its website.

"But that's precisely what didn't happen when efforts were obviously being made to impose on Al Jazeera the agenda of the state of Qatar. The problem is that the organisation lacks internal structures that would immunize it against what was presumably an attempt by the owner or by the editors to interfere politically in things that should have been handled in a journalistic manner."

Suliman said the conflict in Libya which led to the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi who ruled the North African country for 42 years was a case in point. 

"Of course Muammar Gaddafi was a dictator, and of course he'd ruled for far too long. Of course there was a desire among the Libyans to get rid of him. All that is clear," Suliman said.

"But it's also clear that killing a dictator, as happened with Gaddafi, is absolutely unacceptable on human rights grounds, revolution or no. And that's not emphasised. That is: We stressed the necessity of a revolution in Libya and the humanity of the revolutionaries, but said nothing about the murder of a dictator."

He added: "What should also give us pause for thought is that it wasn't just Qaddafi who was killed. Many others were killed after him - including, incidentally, the man who shot Qaddafi. He was killed by another group of revolutionaries. That's the actual environment in Libya. And that's exactly what you don't see on today's Al Jazeera. That's not professional."

The reporter also said the two-year conflict in Syria which has claimed over 40,000 lives is another example that calls into question the news channel's credibility.  

"In Syria, too, society is divided. You have the pro-Assad people, and those who are against him. However, when you make one side out to be mass murderers and turn the others into saints you're fuelling the conflict, not presenting the situation in an appropriate and balanced way," he said.

"There are murders, injustices and good things on both sides. But you don't see that on Al Jazeera. My problem is and was: When I see Al Jazeera's Syrian coverage, I don't really understand what's going on there. And that's the first thing I expect from journalism."

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