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Thanks, Dr. Fayyad, But...

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 April 2012 10:56
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Fadi Abu Saada* Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
We follow your weekly broadcasts, especially this week’s, with great interest and consideration. The journalists in this country are rich because of the freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution, but some matters are not finished. We must raise these issues loudly so we can, as you say, achieve the success we seek in upholding the country with professionalism, credibility, and integrity.

Dr. Salaam Fayyad, Prime Minister
I noted in your speech that you are after control and credibility without limiting freedom of the press or freedom of speech. But the Palestinian journalists detained by security services come to mind. The reason for their arrest, we were told, was security or crime, so we ask that they be tried in a just criminal court. We want to see the details of their arrest and trial. If the reason is their political affiliations, then they must be released.

I would also like to say we haven’t forgotten the banning of al-Aqsa Satellite Channel and Aressala the Islamic newspaper, to give an example. I have no love for them or broadcasted ideology, either, but I have great respect for free speech, Mr. Prime Minister. That means you don’t watch them or read them—it doesn’t mean you ban them. What’s stopping you from taking the same step for lesser reasons?

Mr. Prime Minister, you talk about a “Media Performance Index” to develop and standardize Palestinian broadcasts. But we don’t know why we need to standardize our messages and our means. We say free expression is indivisible—that, too, is in the constitution.

You focus, Mr. Prime Minister, on the role of “criticism” in the service of the general welfare. You talk about respecting humanity and human dignity and say it is the duty of journalists, too. In front of the world, we build and develop ourselves to become a modern, secular state with rights for all.

Your ideas about specialization and maintenance of the press are highly appreciated, as are the ideas of a Media Council and the establishment of a media for the “general public.” But they come amidst a storm in which more than 20 Arab satellite channels have been blocked and ministers resigning over journalists cursing. Are there secret documents on Wikileaks, too?

Mr. Prime Minister, we are proud to say Palestine has moved eight points ahead in the latest Reporters Without Borders’ Freedom to Publish report. That is a signal to keep building. We want to see everything you talk about implemented on the ground, but we want it for all of society. The principles you speak about must be our basic focus in order to end the occupation and establish a state, and God knows we want that, too.

Fadi Abu Sada us the Editor-in-Chief - for the Palestine News Network, PNN