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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Journalists admit self-censorship in Gaza

Al Quds quotes an Asharq Alawsat article saying that journalists in Gaza impose self-censorship for fear of arrest - or worse - by Hamas.

Over the two years of rule by the Islamic Movement, the freedom of the press is nonexistent in the Gaza Strip, according to journalists. Reham Abdel-Karim, Director of the Office of MBC in Gaza, told Asharq Alawsat, "There is no freedom ... Freedom here means to express the views of the governing party only."

Reham Abdel-Karim describes the press in Gaza as having become a mirror of the ruling party, and acting otherwise causes questioning.

"We received a lot of calls and threats. [Hamas] tried various means, including diplomacy and the threat of direct action."

He said, "I received an anonymous phone call threatening me with death if I covered events commemorating the death of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat," pointing out that the contacts are all-encompassing: "They contact us by name, one by one, and threatened us with death."

Sakher Abu El Oun, director of the Office of the Press in the French sector, said, "Yes, we fear, there are many stories we stay away from so as not to enter into a confrontation with« Hamas. My colleagues are also staying away, either ignoring the stories, or calling up foreign journalists to do the job."

This was confirmed by Reham Abdel-Karim, who said, "There is a large blackout and secrecy on many stories in Gaza. If we ask about specific incidents they say to us individually, directly or indirectly, that we cannot [report on them.]"
And why shouldn't Hamas use fear to force journalists to report only what they want reported? It works, and there are no consequences!