Thursday, December 2, 2010

Arab Middle East Suppressing WikiLeaks Coverage

From the Washington Post: "In many Arab countries, the mainstream media have largely avoided reporting on the sensitive contents of the cables, including accounts of Arab leaders drinking alcohol and siding with Israel in advocating a U.S. military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"Most Arabs don't know what's come out in these WikiLeaks documents," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center. "If they did know, there would be an angry reaction."

"He added that opposition Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt might try to capitalize on documents that underscore their arguments that Arab leaders are subservient to the United States and that they do not reflect the interests of their own people.

"In Egypt and the larger Arab world, the massive collection of State Department documents has created a quandary for the media, said Hisham Qasim, an independent newspaper publisher and media analyst in Egypt. "They're still trying to figure this out, and there is definitely some censorship and self-censorship," he said.

"In many Arab countries, criticizing a leader is a line that must not be crossed; in Jordan, it is illegal to criticize the king. Most mainstream Arab media outlets are government-owned, and the portion of the public with Internet access is far lower than it is in China and the West."

Why aren't we surprised.

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