Friday, October 28, 2011

Journalists in Jordan Gather to Show Solidarity with Al Ghad reporter

A recent story regarding a Middle Eastern Journalist caught my attention and prompted me to further read into the incident.   Hundreds of Journalists came together at the Jordan Press Association to show their solidarity with Al Ghad journalist Yousef Damra. Damra was threatened after publishing an article exposing a major fraud case. The demonstration was joined by Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications who worked in efforts to recent government acts of intimidation against journalists.

Damra started his investigative story in April when he started writing about victims of fraud. As a Journalists many confided their stories in him, and knew that he was capable of reaching contacts that local victims could not. His articles and columns exposed $3 million (Jordanian dollars) in real estate fraud.

After receiving many phone calls threatening that if he did not stop coverage of these cases, his life would be in danger. Damra reached out to the Jordan Times, revealing to Times editors that he is reaching out to the police. In an email I received from a Jordan Times editor,” Damra told The Jordan Times yesterday, adding that he informed Al Ghad’s management who in turn complained to the police.” I have been consistently intrigued by this story, and the capability of this writer. I was also very excited to receive an email response from the editor, considering he is in the Middle East.
This is also intriguing to me as a writer because it shows me the limitations I have as a writer, yet, I am able to see how far I can go to get answers, and how far journalists will go to maintain credibility.
Damra's main goal in this investigative story was to uncover corruption and follow through with a service toward his readers that turned to him as a Journalist. He also talked about his duties as a part of the media.  He expressed that it is part of a journalists’ social and professional responsibility to report on any violation of the law. He also sets an example for other investigative journalists that they have rights as long as they do not cross the line or over their boundaries.

In addition to journalists, several citizens who claimed to be victims of fraud took part in the demonstration and urged authorities to take action to protect the journalists that arrived in support of Damra. According to the Damra’s previous article, “JPA President Tareq Momani yesterday said that press intimidation is damaging to society, describing the threat against Damra as “thuggery.”
I believe that as journalists, we should be aware of the challenges we face while doing our job, yet at the same time, never be deterred from our responsibilities in exposing any violation of the law, or other parts of society. Every Journalist should know their rights, and also their boundaries when covering any story, and be aware of their surroundings.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Death of Gaddafi and its affect on the Middle East

For more than 40 years, Moammar Gaddafi was the unusual, unpredictable and brutal face of Libya, the oil-rich country, that became his international gem. He was killed Thursday in Sirte, his home town, eight months after he vowed to die rather than be defeated in the uprising. He became the first Arab ruler to be executed by his people during the revolt that is known, as the Arab Spring, thousands of citizen demonstrators against the dictator inevitably resulted in his long awaited death. His downfall followed the downfall of the leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, who were taken down by their own people, before protesters took to the streets of eastern Libya in February. According to the Jordan Times, an international newspaper that I subscribe to, Gaddafi was believed to be 69 when he died, at his death, had been one of the world’s longest serving dictators.  His death will ultimately affect the rest of the Arab world, and Middle Eastern ties with America as well. American relations with the Arab world have been strained for decades; Israel’s relations with the Arab world just as strained. The opposers enemies of Israel portions of the Middle East is predominately the West. This shows that Western views dominate most of the media, and the one sided approach that is shown. Most of their victims, indeed, are themselves Syrians and Iranians, followed by Lebanese and Palestinians. Furthermore, Palestinians are fighting for peace themselves. The main media portrayal of Egypt is a chaotic and overly religious county, that was smothered by the now deceased dictator. Egypt, and now more specifically Libya is labeled as predominately Islamic and is constantly being compared with other Arab countries, such as Jordan and Palestine. Although Egypt is more liberal compared with Saudi Arabia, Egypt is still the most conservative Muslim country in the media, and will continue to be shown that way despite the death of the dictator, who enforced not only the religion, but his own set of laws as well. The demonstrations and the efforts by Libyan freedom fighters, led to the downfall of Gadaffi, and will have its effect for Palestinians as well. The support of Egyptian political groups has been based on the image that the protesters were strong, as well as their ability to reach surrounding cities and counties with their efforts. Yemen, Palestine and Syria have been fighting for the same cause, and are sending the same message to Palestinians. That message is essentially that Israel’s forces are just as susceptible to failure and removal by the people just as Gadaffi was removed. The peace process in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has taken shape over the years, despite the ongoing violence in the Middle East and protesters attitudes about a lasting peace is what is driving the peace process for those countries as well. There has been various efforts made to find peace and political agreements that need to be made in both the Arab–Israeli conflict and in the Palestinian–Israeli conflict. Libya’s new found freedom is just a stepping stone for these countries to keep fighting and achieving the same goals.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, and its Similarities to the Arab Spring

In this blog I wanted to connect the issues regarding Occupy Wall Street with the middle
eastern issues of inequality I have been discussing the in past. To begin with, Occupy
Wall Street is an ongoing series of demonstrations in New York City based mainly in
Zuccotti Park, in the core of the city. The protest was originally called for by the
Canadian activist  group Adbusters, as reported in the Wall Street Journal; this is similar
to the Arab Spring movement we discussed in class and that I will be elaborating on in a
future column, more specifically the Tahrir Square protests in Cairo, which initiated the
2011 Egyptian Rebellions .
People who take part in the event are mainly protesting against social and economic
inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on
government, among other concerns. They usually go on through October, and similar
demonstrations have been held in over 70 cities in the United States and have also
spread globally, collectively to the Middle East.
This leaves liberals and democrats to contemplate their next move and reactions toward
the Occupy Wall Street movement. The main conflict among liberals is the fact that
democrats and liberal organizations have begun to support the protests. Occupy Wall
Street is an major symbolic movement, and many of its current members are very
driven, but the harsh fact remains that it may go nowhere. But liberals and mainstream
organizations can help shape the movement into a positive result. A conflict remains
that many protesters are involving themselves, but to not necessarily know what they
are fighting for in the first place, nevertheless, I believe that this movement will go down
in history.
As reflected in the Wall Street Journal, Republicans are in a high point now in the sense
that these radical movements benefit Republicans more than Democrats. In the United
States, conservatives are not as dedicated and active as other parties. Mainstream
Liberals are feeding into what is being shown in the media and what technology has
brought to the movement, although most of what is being protested contradicts the use
of mainstream media and its hold on consumers, no matter what party you are affiliated
It appears that the Democratic Party is suffering the most with the economy. Voters see
them as enemies on the same level as those in Wall Street, and Wall Street sees them
as hostile and potential threats to their motives. Republicans have successfully directed
their economic intentions  away from those who challenge it, this gives more power to
politicians and where Wall Street will end up in the eyes of both parties.
If the protests are to play a positive role, it will either refocus the public attention on Wall
Street, and re center political views in general. The Occupy Wall Street movement will
essentially  organize itself around  progressive ideas, although they may lack political
support.  If people stick to their cause, and protesters fight for what they truly believe in
and dismiss popular ideas, there will truly be change.