Between Jon Stewarts Voluntary Departure and Al-Wasats Forced Suspension Lies a Tale of Freedom

2015-08-11 - 2:48 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The 6th of August, 2015 was a harsh day on media outlets across the world, as an important event which drew all eyes took place. It was the finale episode of Jon Stewart's news satire program The Daily Show.

Jon Stewart decided to end his rich professional career after more than 16 years of holding the title of king of political comedy through his satirical show, and after airing 2600 episodes during which he tackled important issues and expressed a public opinion against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and other controversial issues. He was also one of those who negatively affected the Republican Party which lost the elections after George W Bush's eight-year presidency.

We; however, in Bahrain lost on the same day- a coincidence- Al-Wasat newspaper by force. The Information Affairs Authority decided in a statement that was broadcasted in the middle of the night on August 6, 2015 to suspend the only pro-opposition newspaper in the country "until further notice," according to a statement published by the Bahrain News Agency.

There is; nonetheless, a great difference between the two events. They are both ironic and sad at the same time. Dozens of journalists and politicians took part in Jon Stewart's last episode and he even received farewells from his "arch foes" whom he mocked for years, such as Wolf Blitzer CNN's lead political anchor, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly who is known for his right-wing views, as well as US Senator Republican Lindsey Graham and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Viewers of Stewart's show can understand why these people took part in his last episode after 16 years of being sarcastically criticized by the satirist comedian. They celebrated him as a friend, as did the next prominent US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State John Kerry, satire show host John Oliver and his former colleague Stephen Colbert.

On the other hand in Bahrain, most of the pro-regime politicians, journalists and activists appeared to be gloating. They were unbelievably joyful about the forced suspension of Al-Wasat newspaper, which is described by international human rights and media organizations, news agencies, and international media outlets as the only independent newspaper in Bahrain.

Khalid Al-Khayt who describes himself as "the winner of the Bahrain Social Media Award for Socially Responsible - Dec 2013" said in a tweet among a long series of other tweets that as much as he is hurt by the condition of Sunni employees of Al-Wasat, he thanks the Information Affairs Authority for this decision that he described as "right but very late."

The former Member of Bahraini Parliament, hardliner Mohammad Khalid, thanked one of the biggest inciters against Al-Wasat, Ebrahim Al-Dousari, describing him as one of those who unveiled "the poison that this fabricated newspaper was releasing in the Bahraini society."

As for Al-Dousari, he posted many tweets, but Twitter wasn't enough to show how ecstatic he was, but one of the photos he posted managed to express his true emotions. This statement was written on the photo: "Finally, the newspaper of traitors and filth, the daily paper of deceit and sectarianism has been closed."

As for the Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa, he considered this move to serve counter-terrorism, as he said: "Who deems are martyrs mere casualties shall face us. Respect yourselves and have some credibility and professionalism, and don't have double standards."

The minister himself knows that what he's saying is untrue, because Al-Wasat reported what other newspapers like Al-Ayam and other Saudi papers reported concerning the explosion that took place in a mosque linked to the Saudi emergency forces. Al-Wasat only reported what the Agence France-Presse (AFP) had reported.

This incitement against Al-Wasat newspaper wasn't new, for anyone who follows Bahraini news and reads articles in Bahraini pro-regime papers knows that pro-regime journalists and media outlets always attack Al-Wasat, so the decision to close it down wasn't a shock to anyone.

Maybe Al-Wasat's Editor-In-Chief Mansour Al-Jamri watched Jon Stewart's last episode and laughed as he saw Stewart's arch enemies whom he ridiculed for years say their goodbyes to him and compared that scene with the statements issued in his country, which gloatingly welcomed the decision of Al-Wasat's closure and incited contempt against it day in and day out.

It was an indescribable scene, on the one hand a satirist show host who devoted his life to mocking the politicians and journalists of his country leaves his daily show willingly while his opponents bid him farewell. On the other hand, an editor-in-chief of a Bahraini local newspaper, who lost one of the paper's administration board members (Karim Fakhrawi) after he was tortured to death in one of the regime's prisons, gets attacked and targeted by other local newspapers and Bahrain's official TV channel, who all called for the closure of his newspaper, hoping to silence this last opposition voice.

Arabic Issue 


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