Ban on Syrian State Media A Bad Move for Revolution

Article Summary
The decision taken by Arab foreign ministers to ban official Syrian media channels was a mistake, writes Sateh Noureddine. Aside from the freedom of the media being a fundamental right, the ministers have ignored that the words of Bashar al-Assad and his supporters — broadcast on these channels — fueled the revolution.

A video is currently circulating on the Internet which shows a Syrian man hitting a Syrian television correspondent with his shoe. He proceeds to insult the Syrian state media service during a live broadcast from the city of Aleppo. This event did not validate the recent decision taken by the Arab Foreign Ministers Council to ban Syrian official and semi-official satellite channels. On the contrary, it displayed this decision's lack of value or meaning.

In principle, and from a political standpoint, the decision taken by the Arab Council is neither acceptable nor wise. It seems to have been based on an established tradition adopted by Arab regime loyalists, opposition forces, moderates and extremists alike. This tradition stipulates that the media is an abomination born of the devil which should be avoided. The media is seen as the source of all evil and infidelity, responsible for conspiracies, wars and crises. Of course, all of these problems quickly disappear if censorship is imposed on the stupid and foolish public unaware of its own best interests.

Out of principle, banning any media outlet, no matter how hostile one feels toward it, should not be acceptable under any circumstances. The freedom of the media is a human right that must never be abandoned. It is a duty; it forces groups within society to acquaint themselves with others as well as their behavior, their way of thinking and how they interact with radio, television, newspapers, the Internet and other means of communication.

From a political perspective, the decision to block Syrian official and semi-official satellite channels will not help the Syrian public feel less resentful toward the official media outlets, which are indeed an insult the peoples’ intelligence. On the contrary, it may increase the public’s curiosity — as is often the case with the forbidden.

The state channels represent a segment of the Syrian population who are entitled to express themselves and have a role in the future of Syria. Under no circumstances should the existence of this segment be denied. On the other hand, the opposition should not be viewed as a bunch of infiltrators or terrorists that need to be eliminated and uprooted, as stated in President Bashar al-Assad’s latest speech before the new parliament.

The foreign Arab parties who made the decision to ban these channels mean to help the Syrian people and their revolution. However, what is strange about their decision is that they have not noticed, until now, that it is Assad who is personally leading the revolution. And he will remain that revolution’s leader. The revolution has derived and still derives its motivation and gains its popularity from Assad’s speeches and positions, the statements by officials in his government and comments by loyalists to his regime. The Syrian television services broadcast these types of statements much more than they do the security campaigns being carried out in Syrian cities and villages. This gradually drove the Syrians to take up arms, and increased their determination to overthrow the regime.

If the Syrian opposition actually feels that the state media is a threat, shame on them, as this proves that their revolution is more serious than they are themselves. Wrongful and unfair censorship of the “regime’s trumpets” will only increase its drive. 

Found in: arab foreign ministers, syrian media, syrian crisis, syrian, satellite channels, nilesat, media ban, media, arab

Sateh Noureddine is a regular contributor to As-Safir.


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