Closing Al Jazeera will be a shame – Ohene

General News of Friday, 7 July 2017



Elizabeth Ohene DiplomatElizabeth Ohene

It will be unfortunate for Doha-based news network Al Jazeera to be closed down as part of a Saudi-led campaign against Qatar, veteran journalist Elizabeth Ohene has said.

The former BBC journalist told World Affairs’ Etse Sikanku on Class91.3FM on Friday, 7 July in an interview that she believes in “multiplicity of opinion” and wishes Al Jazeera continues to operate because it offers “a different viewpoint or additional viewpoint to other international media on offer, and it will be a shame to lose that”.

Al Jazeera Media Network has already condemned the demand by Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries, calling it “nothing short than a siege against the journalistic profession”.

The network said in a statement on Friday that the move aimed “to silence the freedom of expression in the region and to suppress people’s right to information and the right to be heard”.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt presented Qatar with a list of 13 wide-ranging demands, among them a 10-day ultimatum to the small Gulf state to shut down Al Jazeera and curb its ties with Iran or face unspecified consequences.

Even though Ms Ohene condemns any form of terrorism or links to terrorism if such claims by Saudi Arabia were true, she insists that: “Al Jazeera has been a thorn in the flesh of many of the Arab nations right from the day it was set up because you have to recognise that Al Jazeera was offering space for the kind of voices that you didn’t normally hear on radio or TV or newspaper”.

She said: “Suddenly people who are opposed to the government of Saudi Arabia or UAE or whatever were being interviewed on Al Jazeera and it is not surprising that the government didn’t like it because they were not used to that”.

She said if such voices were heard on the BBC or VOA, the Saudis will accept that it is the Western media doing what they are known for but to have their own people who speak their own language, understand their culture and conduct, to offer such content on their broadcast channels is a worry to them.

For her, the diversity of journalism provided by Al Jazeera is apt and should be allowed to continue its operations.

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