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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 21:53 GMT 22:53 UK
Arab nations launch media campaign
Newspaper press
Arab nations are opening a new front in the media war
Arab nations have agreed to spend $22.5m on a media campaign aimed at correcting what they say are Western perceptions of Arabs as terrorists and redressing a perceived pro-Israeli bias in news coverage.

After two days of deliberations at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Arab information ministers agreed to set up a "media observatory", either in Europe or the US, to put forward the Palestinian view of the Middle East conflict.

In their final statement ministers denounced Israel's "racist" policy toward the Palestinians and said they rejected attempts in the West to equate Palestinian resistance to the 35-year-old Israeli occupation with "terrorism".

However, opinions among the delegates differed with regard to the influence of Arab states on policy in the West.

Palestinian boy with catapult
Ministers said that Palestinian resistance is not "terrorism"
Thirteen ministers of the 22-member Arab League attended the meeting. Other states were represented by lower-ranking information officials.

Only Qatar - which has abolished its information ministry - failed to attend.

Delegates proposed that Arab media should focus on "exposing and condemning deliberate Israeli destruction and demolition of the Palestinian human heritage".

Their closing statement urged all Arab and international media to "engage in an organised effort to gather evidence of Israeli war crimes in order to put Israeli generals, officers and settlers on trial before international courts".

Satellite channel plans

Opening the conference, the Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said that despite the efforts of individual nations, campaigns had failed to gain collective momentum.

The 11 September attacks on New York had prompted accusations of terrorism against Arabs, he said, but "despite that, divisions remain".

The closing statement did not tackle the issue of Palestinian suicide bombings or endorse a proposal that Israeli officials should be banned from Arab TV stations.

Each channel should "make its own decision, based on ethics", said the chair of the meeting, Syrian Information Minister Adnan Omran.

Ministers also urged Arab states to speed up plans for the creation of an English-speaking Arab satellite channel to address international public opinion.

The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Mussa, reportedly warned that Israel is shortly to set up its own Arabic-speaking station in an attempt to win over Arab opinion.


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21 Sep 01 | Country profiles
04 Jan 02 | Country profiles
01 Apr 02 | Middle East
05 Apr 02 | Middle East
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