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Thu 27 Dec 2012 10:37 AM

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Al Jazeera staffer quits over Qatar influence

News channel's Berlin correspondent says he has resigned because of gov't influence

Al Jazeera staffer quits over Qatar influence
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

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."

Salem 7 years ago

Aktham Suliman or whatever his name lives in a different earth! Which news channel is independent? Seriously, any journalist whether working for Al Jazeerah, CNN, BBC, Fox or any other news channel knows well THAT HE IS SERVING HIS MASTERS!!

Let him start his own news channel....good riddance!!

Romel Jayachandran 7 years ago

Channels are a complicated business, filled with nuance, complications, and outright complexity; what works in one situation might be counterproductive in another – and the very best channel objectives for one partner might short circuit a relationship with a different reseller.  As a result, an important job for a channel sales manager is to evaluate, adapt, and execute within a flexible relationship framework that allows multiple types of objectives and measurements.  In this environment, setting relevant channel objectives is a difficult business and actually gathering the data to measure success can be downright impossible.  However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! However public has right to unbiased and non-politically influenced news. I love Al-Jazeera.

John Harte 7 years ago

You clearly know nothing about independent journalism, which is probably a reflection of where you live.

BBC and CNN do not serve the British and US governments; they can be criticised by these governments, but that's all these governments can do, they cannot shut them down or arrest arbitarily journalists. The opposite is true for news channels in the Arab world, which always need their governments' approval.

Qatari 7 years ago

John, same goes for us here, we think that your media is controlled by the Jewish minority. Those people have their own agenda, we have a saying in Arabic, if your house is made of glass don't throw stones at others.

procan 7 years ago

I am with John on this subject. The western mass media here the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation "CBC" a government funded media 1.1 Billion per year is attacking the the federal and Provincial governments daily including calling for over throw ! resignation of cabinet ministers and investigations of them. Now imagine Al Jazeera calling for the overthrow of any GCC State not going to happen eh. Or or criticizing the Royal Family for poor decisions make not going to happen.

Qatar 7 years ago

Procan, I respect your point of view, but you can't deny that your media is biased on the international matters, if not local matters too. For example, the Palestinian case. You may be right about the level of freedom, but not about the unbiased journalism. The agenda is there but you might not see it. I wonder how can you critise the queen over there.

oab 7 years ago

Akhtam does not understand what is going on in syria based on al-jazeera coverage.

based on what he has said i also do not understand his reasons for leaving al-jazeera. i could not find one well established justification to convince me on his pov.


SA1 7 years ago

@Qatari --- critising the Queen? forget it.... they can't say a word about royal expenditures, even Harry Las Vegas incident (which raises serious moral issues) is published as laughing matter and closed.

But when it comes to our region, somehow the western world thinks that we should bad-mouth our monarch /rulers.

One just need to look at News International issue in UK and see how much influence the media has even on elections and nexus with the politicians. And guess what .....their politicians will be saved, and nothing will change.