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Media on Media Roundup (April 19)

[Turkish citizens voting for the referendum in Diyarbakir. Photo by Mahmut Bozarslan, Wikimedia Commons] [Turkish citizens voting for the referendum in Diyarbakir. Photo by Mahmut Bozarslan, Wikimedia Commons]

This week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup covers important stories affecting the MENA mediascape. In Turkey, a historic referendum resulted in the expansion of President Erdogan’s powers, which many journalists and professionals fear will increase authoritarianism in the country.

In an exclusive interview with AFP, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad stated that allegations of chemical attacks in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, are false and fabricated by Western media to justify US attacks on a Syrian military airbase. In an opinion piece for Middle East Eye, columnist Gregory Shupak notes the dangers of US media framing the attack on Shayrat airbase in Syria in moral terms, which serves to justify the strike.

Journalists remain vulnerable across the region with Egyptian lawyer Mohamad Ramadan being sentenced to ten years in prison along with a social media ban, following a Facebook post he wrote on his personal account and veteran. Yemeni journalist Yahya al-Jubaihi was sentenced to death by Houthis for allegedly spying for Saudi Arabia.

On the cultural front, Saudi Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz was removed from her role as editor-in-chief of Vogue Arabia for alleged incompatibility between her vision for the magazine and Conde Nast’s.

All these stories and more can be found below.

Media and Politics

Syria chemical attack 'fabricated' - Assad
Source: BBC
According to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Western media fabricated stories about the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attacks in Idlib to justify US attacks on Shayrat airbase. Assad added that the Syrian government had given up its chemical weapons arsenal in 2013.

Turkey referendum: Vote expanding Erdogan powers 'valid'
Source: BBC
FIfty-one percent of voters in a Turkish referendum voted “yes” to expand President Erdogan’s powers, some of which include the power to interfere in the judiciary and the power to elect public officials. Many journalists fear increased authoritarianism in the country as a result of the referendum. 

Al-Sisi chooses three ex-"Mubarak era" figures to lead new media watchdogs
Source: Middle East Observer
Egyptian president Abdelfattah al-Sisi has chosen three former leaders at state news organizations during Mubarak’s era to head new media watchdog agencies. This move is a result of the regime’s tighter control over the country following two church bombings last weekend.

مصر: اشتعال المواجهة الإعلامية بين السيسي وشيخ الأزهر
المصدر: العربي الجديد
بحسب المقالة، شنّت الأجهزة الإعلامية التابعة للرئيس المصري عبد الفتّاح السيسي حرباً إعلامياً ضد شيخ الأزهر أحمد الطيب، محملته وحده مسؤولية الفشل في مواجهة التطرف والإرهاب في مصر.  يقول الكاتب آنّ الحملة الإعلامية ضدّ الطيب تبنتها غالبية الصحف المصرية، ممّا الأمر دفع الأزهر و أحمد الطيب، إلى تطوير الوسائل الإعلامية التي تحت أيديهم.

Media Industries

Cloud Fund invests $2.5m in GCC tech start-up OneGCC
Source: Saudi Gazette
C5’s Bahrain-based “Cloud Fund” is set to invest $2.5 million in the GCC-based digital recruitment platform, OneGCC. This is C5’s first investment through its “Cloud Found”, which aims to help nascent tech firms “scale-up” their businesses using the Amazon cloud.

Dubai gov't services paperless by 2021, says Smart Dubai
Source: Arabian Business
Smart Dubai, a governmental body, state that Dubai is looking to digitize all government services by 2021 through “intelligent use” of information and communication technologies.

Freedom of Journalists/Expression

Egypt lawyer gets 10 years, social media ban for Facebook posts
Source: BBC
Egyptian lawyer Mohamed Ramadan was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison, five years of house arrest and a five-year ban on using the internet following an online post in which he expressed his political opinion. Amnesty International and Ramadan noted that the sentence infringes on freedom of expression. 

Houthis sentence Yemen journalist to death for spying
Source: Middle East Eye
Yahya al-Jubaihi, a Yemeni journalist, was sentenced to death by Houthis on charges of spying for Saudi Arabia. The Yemeni press union condemned the “arbitrary” sentence , noting that al-Jubaihi was a veteran journalist in the country.

Turkish President Erdogan rules out extradition of German-Turkish journalist
Source: Reuters
Turkish president Erdogan ruled out the extradition of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel to Germany, repeating his assertion that Yucel is a terrorist agent. Yucel, who reports for Die Welt, was arrested following his reports on leaked emails of Turkish energy minister Berat Albayrak.

Social Media

Facebook disrupts suspected spam operation
Source: Agence France Presse
Facebook said that it halted a suspected spam operation that was operating in a host of different countries, including Saudi Arabia. The article argues that these security measures are part of Facebook’s larger campaign to combat misinformation and fake news.

Fears as fleeing Saudi woman is returned to her ‘abusers’
Source: Middle East Monitor
Social media platforms buzzed with #SaveDinaAli and #IAmDina hashtags after Dina Ali Lasloom, a Saudi woman seeking asylum in Australia, was stopped on a layover in the Philippines and returned to Riyadh. Ali released self-recorded videos, widely circulated on social media, in which she stated that Philippine authorities confiscated her passport and expressed her fears of returning to Saudi Arabia.

The business of blogging in Dubai and the GCC
Source: Arabian Business
Writer Lubna Hamdan examines the allegedly growing reach of social media influencers in the GCC, highlighting some of the key bloggers in the fashion and beauty industries, along with their estimated earnings.  

مصر: رَسم مالي لدخول "فايسبوك".. النظام يُجنّ!
المصدر: المدن
شغل البرلمان المصري طرحاً يقترح وضع اشتراكاً شهرياً لاستخدام «فيسبوك» في مصر. السبب وراء هذه الدعوة بحسب المقال هو ما يفعله«فيسبوك» من "تحريض ضد مؤسسات الدولة والحث على نشر الفوضى وتهديد السلم الاجتماعي".


Media Practices

The US media makes a moral case for the Syria strike. That's dangerous
Source: Middle East Eye
Columnist Gregory Shupak comments on the US strike in Syria last week, noting that US media’s framing of the attack in moral terms is dangerous, irresponsible, and serves to reproduce a false belief “in the inherent goodness of US militarism.” 

Shiite militias attempt to win over Mahardah Christians with news of fake gains
Source: Syrian Observer
According to All4Syria writers, Iraqi Shiite groups fighting in the Hama countryside launched a propaganda media campaign in their military efforts to take the back the town, which allegedly attempted to win public support of Christian locals by claiming to have recaptured a number of churches.


إعلام النظام السوري يمهّد لمجزرة كيميائي جديدة بدمشق وريفها
المصدر: العربي الجديد
نشرت بعض الصفحات الإخبارية  التابعة للنظام السوري خبراً يؤكد حدوث هجمة بالأسلحة الكيميائية في دمشق و ريفها. أثار الخبر بلبلة على مواقع التواصل الإجتماعي، و يقول الكاتب أنّ هذه البلبلة لم تطاولْ الإعلام السوري الرسمي، ولكن "تردد صدى الضربة القادمة للغوطة الشرقية".


The mystics who found meaning in solar panels
Source: BBC
In this photoessay, writer Joobin Bekhrad explores the Moroccan village of Tahala and its use of solar panels, which some of the residents believe bring them closer to God.

Vogue Arabia suddenly changes editors
Source: New York Times
Saudi Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz was replaced by Conde Nast veteran Manuel Arnaut as editor-in-chief of Vogue Arabia, after guiding two print issues of the publication. The reasons behind the change are unknown; however Abdulaziz issued a statement noting that she “refused to compromise” her editorial vision.

Filming Egypt after the revolution: "An extra was stabbed, a car was hijacked. It was crazy"
Source: The Guardian
Egyptian filmmaker Mohamed Diab’s movie, “Clash,” takes place in a Cairo police van in the wake of Morsi’s election. Diab, an established writer and prominent symbol of the revolution, highlights the challenges he faced filming “Clash” and getting the film past Egypt’s censorship board.

For women only: Coffee, billiards and cards in Gaza cafe
Source: Middle East Eye
Al-Jalaa cafe, a women’s only cafe in Gaza city, aims to give women the opportunity to practice their hobbies, learn new ones, and build strong networks.

Storytellers create intimate space in bustling Beirut
Source: Al Monitor
The article discusses a narrative oral storytelling initiative called “Hakaya,” launched in Beirut in the spring of 2016, which aims to build a community of storytellers by bringing together a diverse group of narrators and listeners from various walks of life.

From Jadaliyya Media Roundups

The Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack, the evidence so far
Source: Jadaliyya Syria Media Roundup
The article compiles a series of photos and videos that reportedly address the chemical attacks that occurred in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib on April 4th. 

TV anchor Ahmed Moussa sentenced to six months in prison for airing private phone calls
Source: Jadaliyya Egypt Media Roundup
Egyptian TV anchor Ahmed Moussa was sentenced to six months in prison and a LE40,000 fine for airing private phone calls. According to the article, the pro-Sisi TV anchor has been involved in a series of libel cases and was accused of leaking the private phone calls of politicians and January 25 revolution activists.

[The "Media On Media Roundup" is an initiative to survey published material in the news and broadcast media that deals with journalism, coverage, or mass communication practices about the region. These roundups are produced and curated in collaboration with the American University of Beirut's Media Studies Program. The items collected here do not reflect the views of Jadaliyya or the editors of the Media Page.]


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Jadaliyya’s Law & Conflict Page seeks to explore the relationship between and the debates within the fields of armed conflict, politics, and international law. These debates include developments in international law, the implications of intervention, the legitimacy, or lack thereof, of resistance, the political economy of conflict, war profiteering, the humanitarian dimension of war and peace, and movements and related forces.

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