Al-Jazeera self-censorship on Bahrain dictatorship?


This video is the documentary Bahrain: Shouting in the dark.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Al Jazeera Changes Plan to Rerun Documentary

By BRIAN STELTER

Published: August 9, 2011

Al Jazeera English has quashed several planned rebroadcasts of “Shouting in the Dark,” an hourlong documentary about Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that had its debut last week and brought complaints from Bahraini authorities.

The decision this week to halt the repeats raised concerns among Al Jazeera’s staff members that the channel was succumbing to political or diplomatic pressure from Bahrain and its ally Saudi Arabia.

In response to inquiries by The New York Times, a spokesman for Al Jazeera said Tuesday that the documentary would be rebroadcast on Thursday and would be paired with a round-table discussion.

The episode illustrates the thorny issue of independence for Al Jazeera, one of the world’s biggest satellite news organizations, which is financed by the emir of Qatar and is perceived by some people to be a diplomatic tool of the country. Al Jazeera insists that the Qatari government does not interfere in the network’s editorial operations.

Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English language channels both came under scrutiny in February and March for their coverage of Bahrain, an island kingdom just north of Qatar in the Persian Gulf. Viewers perceived that the Arabic channel, in particular, paid less attention to the Bahraini protests than it did to the earlier protests in Tunisia and Egypt. Qatar joined Saudi Arabia in sending troops into Bahrain to violently quell the protests in March.

Bahraini authorities helped to limit news coverage of the crackdown by blocking journalists from entering the country and expelling some who were already there.

Some video still surfaced, however; “Shouting in the Dark,” which was first televised last Thursday, featured footage that was secretly recorded during the protests, showing brutal violence and desperate scenes inside hospitals. The documentary contrasted that footage with the claims that were made at the time on state television. The narrator describes Al Jazeera as the “witness” to the protesters — “the only TV journalists who remained to follow their journey of hope to the carnage that followed.”

“Shouting in the Dark” was shown on Al Jazeera’s English channel, but not the Arabic channel that is more influential in the Middle East. Al Anstey, the managing director of Al Jazeera English, was so proud of the documentary that he sought to screen it in advance for reporters. He asserted that it would counter critics of the channel’s past coverage of Bahrain.

The documentary did receive ample attention last week, giving rise to speculation that relations between Qatar and Bahrain would be harmed. The Bahraini Information Affairs Ministry did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday, but local news outlets have printed denials of reports that diplomatic ties between the countries had been severed in the wake of the broadcast.

Al Jazeera’s Web site had listed times for rebroadcasts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, but last weekend the listings were deleted without explanation.

Government of Bahrain requests 300 Filipino medical workers (after sacking/jailing many Bahraini ones): here.

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