Jazeera Program Attacks ADC
It is very disheartening to see a respected network allow its podium to be used to launch an attack on the premier civil rights organization on behalf of Arab Americans in the United States.
1 August 2002
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in Michigan and the Greater Detroit Chapter call on the entire Arab American Community to contact the Al Jazeera Satellite television station to voice dismay at Dr. Faisal Al Qassem’s talk show titled, The Opposite Direction, which aired on July 30, 2002 and re-aired on July 31, 2002. The show hosted an individual, by the name of Mohammad Dalbah, who used the program to attack primarily ADC and its national leadership.
During the program, Dalbah accused ADC and its national President Dr. Asali of being a sell-out that does not represent the interests of the Arab American Community, but only works to serve the US administration. Although ADC was Dalbah’s prime focus, his attack included all Arab and Muslim American leaders and organizations. He also went so far as to claim that the leaders of so many of these organizations are nothing but CIA agents and followers of government directives and policies. It is obvious that this individual was invited on this show to simply attack the credibility of the Arab and Muslim American organizations in the US.
Although the program was meant to discuss the role of Arab American organizations in general, the show’s host made several obvious and deliberate attempts to keep the focus of the discussion on ADC. The show did provide the input of another respected guest, who attempted to combat the ill accusations of Dalbah. However, regardless of this fact, this show made no attempt at objectivity.
While ADC encourages constructive debate and the airing of differences in opinion, we are stunned that Al Jazeera and Dr. Al Qassem, in particular, would allow this individual, who has his own personal agenda, to have anything to do with any sound discussion. Like any other democratic institution, ADC maintains an energetic debate process, in order to develop and reform its many goals. However, it is quite clear that Dalbah worked more so to create chaos in an attempt to gain some recognition, as he is an unfamiliar name and face in the Arab media and the community at large. The comments made by Dalbah are meant to enforce divisions in the Arab American Community, which can be detrimental to our livelihood, especially after the many challenges facing the community since September 11.
It is very disheartening to see a respected network allow its podium to be used to launch an attack on the premier civil rights organization on behalf of Arab Americans in the United States. Such irresponsible journalism should have no place in any media outlet, especially within an Arab network. Al Jazeera’s role as an Arab media outlet does not make it exempt from criticism and prevent us from continuing our work to combat bigotry and bias.
ADC Michigan and the Greater Detroit Chapter call on all community members to contact Al Jazeera and demand that they rectify this situation immediately, as it is an attack on all of us as Arab and Muslim Americans.
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