When the Islamic revolution began in 1979 under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, it aroused considerable admiration in the Arab street. It presented a model of organised popular action that deposed one of the region’s most tyrannical regimes. The people of the region discerned in this revolution new hope for freedom and change.
There is a very deep conviction in the heart of the people who work in al-Jazeera that if it changes its editorial line, it will very quickly lose its audience. Al-Jazeera has its own style; it has more than 3,500 employees, and I don’t think anyone will have the attitude of changing it because they will lose.
What I like to call ‘journalism of depth’ is the media that regards the collective conscience of the masses to be its point of departure. It is the media that believes, as a matter of principle, in the potential capabilities of the people and respects their choices.
At times, some journalists see nothing in the people apart from an opportunity to make material gain. They see them as consumers to whom we sell commodities at huge profits that keep our bank accounts growing.
We have Al Jazeera Arabic news, Al Jazeera English news, of course; we have three sports channels, and we have Al Jazeera Mubasher, which is a live channel that broadcasts live press conferences and symposiums and meetings. And, of course, we have Al Jazeera commentary in Arabic.
News is the backbone of our network; the main commodity and the main successes of Al Jazeera came out of our involvement in covering the news in the Middle East.
I started, actually, as an analyst on African affairs, mainly on Al Jazeera. I remember the first few series were about Saudi students, and the negotiations between the government and the Sudanese rebels in the south. And then, slowly, I was speaking about Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and a few other places.
The best people to provide valuable information about any society are the children of that society who belong to its culture and are part of its collective conscience.
The Arab spring was not as radical as the French or Iranian revolutions. It did not pull out the deeply entrenched roots of the state. Instead, it was satisfied to replace the top of the pyramid with newly elected, but inexperienced, leaders.
The stability and security of authoritarian regimes cannot create but terrorism and violence and destruction. Let us accept the choice of the people. Let us not pick and choose who we would like to rule their future.