مُتاح أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)
The prevailing point of view describing American democracy, as a democracy without citizens, has a theoretical and practical elegance and validity, and in this regard, the media is supposed to provide material for understanding political and public domain space in order to allow citizens and all actors to influence political decision-making, power and governance. It is therefore an essential tool and part of building active and positive individual and societal awareness. The media’s profession, when it does not respect its ethics and professional principles, distorts the reality and creates a reality that is controlled by beneficiaries and those who are more powerful.
Nowadays, interests Lobbies exercise a negative dominating role over media and creating public opinion. The later seems falsified and fake if measured by the influence of money, authority and power while the people’s will is usually ignored and cornered during periodical elections.
If we also considered the fact that stable democracies are facing similar crises and getting results that contradict with their historical ideals, this problem gets even more complicated when it comes to democratic transitional periods. The term itself refers to the concept’s complicated reality.
And while democracy requires institutions and structures that are in line with the community’s depth that accepts them in the first place, institutions and structures go through a period of building and a total revisualization during democratic transitional periods.
It also means that also the transition coincided with a deep societal transformation that seeks to rebuild its political presence. This fact does not ignore addressing economic and social demands that are usually the reason behind revolutions and uprisings which affect the combination of power and ancient form of society.
During this process, the role of transferring of information becomes a serious bet on the building the strength of acting, will and freedom, i.e. those principles and basics which democracy seeks to preserve. Information is defined as the tool of the mind and its frame; it is therefore the tool for shaping reality and building it. But the question arises when the formation of reality process becomes the cause of falsifying and distorting it in a way that contradicts with people’s awareness and will. The writer of these lines believes that the democratic bet of modern society is to preserve reality when trying to deliver it to citizens so they can have the capability to understand it as it is and take a free and rational stance regarding it. On this basis, the open society’s will becomes of great value and effect on the institutionalization of the political domain as one of its essential inputs and eventually a value and effect on outputs
Media has played an essential role during the post-revolutions periods in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. And if it is part of change and its process, it is related to the long history of states and peoples, including pre-revolutions periods.
Therefore, sociology of bodies and ideas was not absent from the research paper provided by Reem ben Rajab. The paper access deeply the grounds of discrimination and hatred prevalent in the media, leading to the prior shaped opinions and attitudes related to gender, clothing and individual will. The presence of “intellectuals” and “artists” with their ideals represent only a reflection for the community and what prevails in it. The writer highlighted how the media has become a producer and a reproducer for ideas and behaviors prevailing instead of getting rid of discrimination and hatred grounds.
The media can be part of public policy making; it is supposed to be an independent force capable of creating and launching that will later become an agenda for the Authority, it is possible to determine media institution’s independence whether through its “ownership” and its relationship in a certain phase to the existing authority, as indicated by Walid Al-Majri in his research which is entitled “Tunisian Media: From the Authority of the System to the Authority of Ideology and Money.” The authority for so long has been structuring media to guarantee its inputs and outputs whether through money, , administrative decisions, or direct repression, in light of a dominant fear within a complete “dominated economy” that dominated political life for decades.
There was a complicated network of relationships between the dominating systems of media, authority branches whether partisan or administrative, with a generalized atmosphere of consuming ideals to certain categories that benefit from the existing situation directly or indirectly
The alternative media was available abroad or very limited within borders. Despite the opening up of political space in Tunisia, it did not develop enough to provide an alternative media content that support democracy instead of authoritarianism
The alternative media experience remained focused on less stable tools than institutions, despite benefiting from the digital content and the means of social communication and its relation to civil and local community organizations
Perhaps at some point, it was part of the general movement, but it ended with the end of its success reasons.
The two articles combined to address the situation in Tunisia, to confirm that part of the historical dominance still exists, especially by referring to the money and interest lobbies or social dominance, a dominance that repositioned itself in new authoritarian engineering. The Tunisian constitution set the rules for an expanded political game based on human rights principles, with the aim of advancing the democratic transition further. However, the real situation proves its failure in several levels and its fragility, and one of its causes is exploiting media through new owners and acquisitions that was a bridge for narrow political interests and employing its ability to influence and shape public opinion for narrow goals and interests.
If society is in the process of questioning its political existence, which started since 2011, the constitutional and legal framework was one of its important engines, but the reality proved that the transition from awareness to achieving goals goes through a complicated process which combine wills starting from forming an enlarged community till arriving to political power, and in the middle of all that the complicated reality, changing present and future which we are witnessing.
Given the absence of a clear, stable vision and public policy capable of achieving the democratic goal (in its full constitutional and legal expression), the latter’s tools, and the media is one of them, can become a dominant power. Hence, this is the content of the journalist Walid Al-Majri’s article on the media’s transition from domination of one authority to another.
The instability of the political scene has caused the exploitation of media in issues of political conflict in Tunisia, which is reflected in media work during the electoral period, for example. In the same direction, the interview conducted by Karim Yahya with Libyan journalist Ahmed Al-Fituri, proved that mere words are not expressive but rather become screaming. And thus, the media scene in Libya was not excluded from this harsh description which he considered as an under developed field. And Bakr Al-Byzanti, in his article entitled “Media stereotypes in Libya … discussion on the negative diversity structure of media in Libya,” stressed this dimension when he demonstrated that the path of forming media discourse depends on divisions on the ground. It is military and financial strength that determine the ideas promoted in the media. As long as the forces in the struggle are nihilistic, it results in nothing but a similar discourse, reinforced in its atmosphere by hate speech and discrimination. However, the opposite path also proved its existence, as the media created problems that did not exist or were huge, which would have passed without attracting the attention of society. The media operates negatively in a level to waste the symbolic thinking about democratic transition in Libya and human rights, unless it retrieves its unified national voice.
Karem Yahya reviewed the “dialectic of media and democracy” through a “comparative overview of the traditional means in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya since 2011,” but he did not forget to dig deep in the history of silence in Egypt. Karem Yahya referred to the contributions of the human rights movement to review attempts to emphasize what he called the “interactive link” between a free and professional press and building a democratic state. Every scrutiny of the democratic transition and human rights emerging process requires tracking societal awareness of all its elite, such as youth initiating coverage of public affairs via social media, in order to contribute to providing objective conditions for democracy.
DAAM’s sixth periodical raises thoughts about several questions including:
– The media profession in our societies: is a kind of journalistic repositioning in community asking for recognition and self-esteem. This leads us to question the legal conditions of journalists, with the prevalence of fragile employment of media, their difficult working conditions and their facing of daily violence. As for these levels lead to the destabilization of the leading role of media in our societies, including creating capable journalists who can defend society issues, especially as they are often threatened.
– Media in society: This sector is intertwined with all levels of physical and moral social existence. The matter developed with the emergence of modern technological means that expanded and diversified the means of transferring information. What strategy for the Arab countries and our societies that could face these transformations?
– Media during the transition period: the latter’s definition is mixed and complicated, is description of the transition is as mentioned above, and how do you ensure media’s ethical and professional standards and human rights during transition towards democracy? What is the relationship of media’s neutrality and impartiality with the peoples’ public interest and their wish to settle for democracy and respect for human beings?
DAAM Center thinks about humans within our related fields to achieve democracy and human rights.
We wish you an enjoyable reading experience.
The free and independent media is a fundamental pillar of democracy
Public opinion is often cited in conjunction with the term “media”, the reason for that is the media’s -whether traditional, digital or else- influential role in shaping public opinion trends, this also occurs taking into account the relationship of authority with media on one hand and its relationship with public opinion on the other.
Researchers have recognized the importance of public opinion and its role; but they squabbled among themselves and failed to agree upon or give one definition for it, and this due to the difference in the nature of the specialization of each one of them.
There are numerous definitions for public opinion, and almost all of these definitions agree that expressing public opinion on one hand and the attempt to change, manage and influence it or even creating a new public opinion on the other hand can only be done through persuasion which requires communication for all categories that must be attending discussions, engaging with different opinions, examining them and criticizing the opposing ideas with willingness to accept them if they were proved to be valid. Imposing opinions though coercion and forcing others to adopt them without conviction does not reflect a real public opinion in the strict sense of the word, in another words, freedom of thought, expression and opinion are the basis for any general trend in society, which represents the minimum degree of agreement on a particular subject or a particular issue.
When we talk about the media’s role in shaping public opinion trends, several things cannot be ignored in order to understand the influence of media, whether positive or negative, on public opinion. One of the most important of these is the context of the authority’s relation with media, which is the concern raised by special rapporteurs for freedom of expression in the joint declaration on the tenth anniversary, entitled “ten main challenges for freedom of expression in the coming decade”, and the first of these challenges are mechanisms of government control over media. According to the Declaration, control is one of the constraints that, over the years, have been limiting freedom of expression, which represents a serious problem. That control takes many forms, but we are particularly concerned about the exercise of political influence or political control over public media so that it can be used as a governmental instrument, rather than as independent bodies working for common good.
This is why we are addressing here freedom of thought and expression as an entry point or umbrella for protecting freedom of information and the importance of it being free and unrestricted to play its role in providing news, opinions and ideas to citizens, as well as the right to access and circulate information as a necessary right to serve public opinion and to assist it in choosing and participating. Finally, we are trying to answer the question of the role of the Egyptian mass media, is it misleading or impacting public opinion?
Freedom of opinion and expression as an umbrella for protecting media’s freedom in and access to and circulation of information
The right to freedom of opinion and expression consists of three different elements, as provided for in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights (a) the right to hold opinions without interference., and (b) the right to seek and receive information and the right to facilitate access to it; (C) impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
A wide range of case precedents, special procedures reports and United Nations resolutions and regional human rights regimes confirm that freedom of expression is “essential for the practicing other human rights and freedoms, and essential for the creation of a democratic society and for promotion of democracy”.
The right to freedom of opinion and expression more than any other right represents a symbol of the interdependence and indivisibility of all human rights. On this basis, the effective practice of this right is an important indicator of protection of human rights and other fundamental freedoms.
Moreover, although the right to freedom of opinion and expression is an individual right in the broadest sense of practice, it is also considered a collective right, giving groups of society the ability to seek and receive various types of information from a variety of sources and express their collective views . In addition to providing for the right to freedom of expression and freedom of information, legal and international systems also provide that a free and unrestricted press is a necessary condition for guaranteeing those freedoms. The European Court of Human Rights, for example, decided that the media play a vital role as a public observatory, responsible for transmitting information and ideas of public opinion that public opinion is entitled to, and that the press provides public opinion with the best means of discovering and shaping opinion with regard to ideas and positions of political leaders. It reinforces an open and free political debate, which is at the core of the concept of democracy.
If people do not know what is happening in their society, and if the actions of those who rule are hidden, they cannot actually participate in managing affairs of that society. Access to information is not just a basic need for people; it is a prerequisite for good governance conditions as bad governments need to be secretive in managing their affairs to survive, allowing inefficiency, waste, and corruption to flourish.
In 2015 report’s introduction, the Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of freedom of opinion and expression in a recent context on matters of concern to public opinion points out that disclosure usually requires three elements: A person who is willing and able to detect a hidden matter, a mean for information disseminating or a communication platform for the dissemination of such information, a legal system and a political culture that is protected by effective protection. Without such a combination – source, publication, and protection – what is secret probably will remain a secret.
Independent free and unrestricted media
Media’s freedom can be perceived as the freedom to publish and distribute content on media’s platforms. This is a prerequisite for many organizations, as well as for any individual who wishes to reach the public, and this is also essential for the news media organizations and other institutions that practice journalism, in order for whatever they deploy to affect power. However, any restrictions on the freedom of media can affect all actors using this general dimension of the right to freedom of expression. The protection and promotion of freedom of information is essential for a more democratic society.
The role of the media is to disseminate facts and views through the media. But the goal of this publication is to provide people with the valid and true information for the purpose of cooperating with them and adopting the right opinion about a problem or a general issue, the aim of the media is to convey the image honestly rather than to create that image, because the process of creating that image is the citizen’s mission.
Some may disagree on the following: does the transition to a democratic system help to create an independent and free media? Or does establishing an independent and free media help to bring about a democratic transformation? Either way, it is hard to disagree that media’s independence is closely linked to democracy and its principles, and linked to media’s capability to perform its first social function, namely, community self-censorship.
The more independent the media, the more disciplined, more comprehensive, and more representative of society at all its different and unbiased levels it will be, thereby helping to achieve better professional performance and ensuring the preservation of basic human rights such as the right to expression, organization, knowledge and effective participation in public life.
In a research study entitled “Freedom of information and political and social instability”, Sudija Bal sought to examine the impact of media’s independence and lack of a free climate on the political and social stability of society. It measured the impact of the media on political and social stability by seven indicators, including the ethnic congestion and internal tension due to civil wars, the possibility of military coups, terroristic incidents or civil chaos, the high rate of crime and chaos, and the lack of a fair judicial system that controls social order and obliges citizens to the law, the army’s intervention in politics and governance, and the government’s stability, its ability to remain in power, its efficiency and its effectiveness in achieving its political and economic goals.
The results that have been obtained have confirmed – statistically – that there is a inverse relationship between freedom and media’s independence and four of those indicators mentioned above. If there were a free climate for the media, this would have a positive impact on the political and social stability that in turn affect investment and economic growth. She concluded that independent media – that is not controlled by the state and interest groups that make information available professionally and promote citizens’ right to know and express their opinions – improves the government’s accountability as it puts internal and external pressure on them to improve their performance and confront their mistakes.
A free, uncensored and unimpeded press or media is indispensable for any society to guarantee freedom of opinion, expression and practice other rights, asthe press and other media are the cornerstone of a democratic society.
A journalist and researcher from Egypt who practiced the profession of journalism for nearly forty years, interested in freedom of press, worked as a reporter for “Al-Ahram” in Tunisia between November 2016 and August 2018 and has books discussing its experience in transition to democracy, author of “Freedom on the Margins: in criticism of the Egyptian press conditions “issued from Cairo in two editions in 2005 and 2011 and” rebellion in the barracks: the Egyptian press and the revolution of January 25 Revolution ” Cairo 2012 and” Tunisian media after the revolution: A vision of a reporter from Egypt about journalistic sources ” Tunisia 2019 and “A Syndicate Under Siege: Another History for Egyptian Journalists ” Under Publication, and “Case A : How We Restored a Democratic Guarantee for Journalists’ syndicate Elections, The case and its documents ” jointly with Ahmed Ragheb, the lawyer, Cairo 2007,” Freedom of e Press Demonstrations 1909: a commemorative book of documentation ” Cairo 2009, in cooperation with Khaled Al- Sarjani and Hoda Nasrallah , one of the founders of the” Journalists for Change “ group in Egypt 2005 and its first general coordinator .
The relationship and the interrelationship between free and professional media on the one hand and the opportunities for building a democratic society based on respect for human rights and promoting it on the other hand were necessary. While it has become a am established fact of thought and practice, it remains under urgent and renewed review with global and regional developments. This insistence and renewal is evidenced by the fact that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is raising this relationship on its agenda and activities, as the dangers of “populism” rise and the controversy over the possibilities of using the Internet and the possibilities of the digital revolution rise. By the 2019 World Press Freedom Day, they launched their campaign, Media for Democracy: The Press and elections in a time of Media deception.
At a glance at UNESCO’s speech on this occasion, I looked at the problems and risks of directing voters to vote for reasons of anger and fear, i.e. by stirring emotions instead of the right to know, to reason and to criticism to evaluate candidates’ programs, speeches and political behavior. The UNESCO speech here also presents the latest developments in seeking to undermine the role of the media in building democracy by reaching voters directly through social media, discrediting the professional press and profligate the term “false news”. These are, of course, new developments or a “round-the-clock” language move that strikes in long-standing democracies well-established in Europe and the United States, and not only in the south and our Arab world, where freedoms, democracy, rights and professionalism are struggling to settle. Therefore, it was not surprising that the invitation to a world conference held by UNESCO at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa between 1 and 3 May 2019 included expressions calling for “informing citizens that disinformation and discrediting the press represent a danger to democracy”. “The media must make public opinion aware of its continuing democratic role and gain respect for this role and confidence,” he said, stressing that “a free, independent and professional press – both online and offline – plays a key role in democratic systems and provides information that allows citizens to make informed decisions both inside and outside voting offices.”
This global attention, as UNESCO’s preoccupation shows, goes beyond being an appropriate act or a moment of awakening. The International Organization itself issued an additional and detailed report in 2017, which monitored the ongoing conflict around the world between the establishment of media freedom, access to knowledge and the spread of information, and the dangers of “political populism” to this freedom and right. In addition to the negative effects of increasing censorship on the Internet and withholding information under the pretext of “protecting national security” and “the effects of the proliferation of “televised news” on election competitions, and the retreat of public confidence in the media, targeting journalists and impunity for perpetrators. In this context, it is clear that our Arab world is at the forefront of the regions that witnessed a noticeable rise in killing journalists because of practicing the profession. The UNESCO report recorded 191 victims in the Arab world out of 530 worldwide between 2012 and 2016.
Journalists were killed because of the practice of the profession between 2012 and 2016
For a journalist’s experience and human rights and democracy advocate coming from Cairo, I note that Egypt’s rights movement, whose most important organizations were born around the mid-1980’s, has also been fragmented, from the very beginning, into what might be called here the “interactive link” between a free and professional press and democratic state-building. Both remain Egypt Our whole Arab world is missing and searching for it in a turbulent atmosphere. He is even longing for him and dream of him. On the search journey for this paper, I found in my Archive three models that reflect the concerns with this link. These are examples only. And be careful, I do not forewarning any race or leadership, even in the Egyptian human rights context.
The first is about press freedom and human rights, where the late Dr. “Mohamed Sayed said” wrote in the middle of the 1990s, optimistic about negotiation with the state authority over a new press law. He wondered in a 37-page introduction to the book: “Do we hope that spring will pass on us in Cairo from the gate of freedom of the press?” and he hoped at the moment of a favorable meeting between political authority and intellectuals and the Press Syndicate. As freedom of the press is a necessary and certain condition for the Egyptian patriotism and for a great rise of Egyptian and Arab culture, as was the case of Cairo in its Arab surroundings at the end of the 19th century. The writer, the human rights thinker, may think that the “Egyptian state” has an awareness and interest in restoring the resources of “soft power” to gain a privileged position in its region. The second model came before the end of 1990s also from one of the pillars of the Egyptian and Arab human rights movement “Muhsin Awad”, when he called in turn for areas that agree between the government and opposition regarding education on human rights culture and linking these rights with development. This came after discussing what he considered as a “decisive influence” that the mass media play on the human rights path, whether in establishing public awareness of these rights, devolution of their concepts or through the supervisory role and ability to provide information to the public opinion and follow up the violations cases. The third model is among the long narrative of human rights literature on media freedom and elections that Egypt knew even before the January 25, 2011 revolution. Here, the book/model before us, in the absence of fair, transparent and free public election conditions, makes Muataz Al-Fujairi, a younger generation of the Egyptian human rights movement from Sa’id and Awad, proud to seek to enrich the role of the media for the integrity, competitiveness and transparency of the electoral process. The transfer of internationally recognized accumulated experience, standards and ethics and the affirmation of voters’ right to know and candidates’ right to equal media opportunities.
Of course, the tasks of the media in building a democratic society are beyond the process and the events of the elections. It goes beyond the continuing professional news functions of society in general and the processes of democratic development in particular and the opening of multi-opinion and substantive dialog on all aspects of the conflict for democracy, freedoms and citizenship, its issues, its borders and battles. They also call for public participation, not to mention a rational and critical culture. This paper takes an interactive approach to the link between free and professional media and democracy-building, compared to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and a traditional media coverage from the 2011 press, radio and television, assuming that the media, the process, and the democratic environment in general influence and affect each other. In addition to returning to sources and references, the paper calls on the direct experiences of its author as a work journalist and lived in Egypt and Tunisia, and seeks to complete the lack of direct access to Libyan society by interviews on his media reality and current press.
To establish a comparative overview, in the absence of a research heritage that seems to take this perspective on three societies whose current paths and experiences in transition to democracy after uprisings and revolutions in a society in which transitions to complex conflicts continue to progress, relapsed, and go up and down (Tunisia), another in which demand for democracy disappeared or nearly divided, the absence and collapse of the central state authority (Libya), and a third in the reproduction of power, autocracy, individual rule, and human rights violations in the name of restoring “the prestige of the state” (Egypt). It would be useful to recall the models of Egypt’s pre-2011 human-rights discourse to recall this aspiration for reform from within pre-uprisings and revolutions. The uprisings and revolutions have, of course, served to make these systems unable to reform and meet the demand for change, and have triggered a wave of demands and expectations, then, for more radical changes.
Between reporters without borders and Arab Journalists Union
The paths of conflict over transition to democracy have varied after the so-called “Arab Spring revolutions” in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, the three communities that toppled dictators in 2011. Today, nearly eight years later, Tunisia continues to build a democratic but difficult country, while Egypt has fallen into a harsher authoritarian grip and reproduces what was before its revolution, while Libya suffers civil war and chaos with foreign intervention and state collapse. Tracking the shifts of reporters without borders Index in 2010, 2011/2012, and 2019 give a simplified picture of media conditions and changes in the three communities over this period of time. In 2010, on the threshold of direct uprisings or revolutions, Egypt ranked 127 out of 178 advanced countries in press freedoms and relatively on Libya (160), while Tunisia was behind the three countries to 164. Immediately after the revolution, Tunisia’s ranking jumped on the index of 11/2012 to exceed thirty countries, ranking 134th, and surpassing Libya, which improved its ranking to 155th, while Egypt’s ranking deteriorated to 166th out of 179th countries and the last among the three countries. This deterioration and decline do not reflect in my estimation and experience by using the standards of the Egyptian and state-owned press, the relative improvement in the margin of freedom and professionalism in light of the changes in the general political climate and the holding of the first free multi-presidential elections in Egypt’s history in June 2012.
“Reporters without borders”, published on May 3, 2019, reports that Egypt remains among the 19 worst “black list” countries, ranking 163 out of 180 countries, preceded by 42 out of 55 African Union member states and 15 out of 22 Arab League member states. Libya also settled among the “black list” countries and 162 directly in front of Egypt. But this year’s good news comes also from Tunisia, where it jumped 25 places from the year before 2018 and ranks 72nd. This is how the transformation of this international classification is followed by a remarkable turnaround in the comparative ranking of the three countries. The worst before the uprisings and revolutions (Tunisia) became the best. Indeed, Tunisia has gone far in the indicators of improvement and ahead 92 places among the world’s countries, while the relatively better (Egypt) have deteriorated 26. Libya ended about eight years after its revolution to maintain stability among the worst in the world, with two salaries behind.
Unlike this manual/international report, which adopts several globally adopted factors to measure the development of press freedom, the annual freedom report of the Arab Journalists Union gives researchers a chance to learn how the trade union organizations spoke to journalists in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya about the press in their respective countries. “We are talking about Switzerland or Scandinavia,” said the late press writer Salahuddin Hafiz, the Union’s Secretary-general, when the first version of this report was released in 2006. The owner of this paper has written by critics of the union, which is mostly controlled by whom he can describe as “the journalists of the regimes.” But for the last time, let’s see how it has evolved with the three countries.
2009/2010 report ( 178 countries)
2011/2012 report ( 179 countries)
2019 report ( 180 countries)
For Libya, in its 2009/2010 report, the Secretary-General of its Journalists’ Association, Ashour Mohamed Al-Tlissi, wrote only a quarter of a page under the title: “The stability of the press situation”, hailing what he called “the revival of freedom of opinion and dialog”, denying any restrictions, and singled out reporters without the attack without making the effort to respond to a specific violation. He said here a text: “As for the response to what is written here and there, especially the issue of reporters without borders, we inform you that this organization has experienced how it is taking the news directed to developing countries in particular, and we have reached a complete conviction that it represents only itself and the news that it produces is not accurate in its entirety. But the Association itself returned in the following report, and a year later, to lie completely with the previous one. It recognized that “the established system was not concerned with a real reform of an information situation that was accumulated and failed and did not meet the minimum professional standards”. “We are not going to be able to have a good deal of time,” he said, according to the statement. But this optimism and enthusiasm at the dawn of freedom and professionalism in Libya quickly turned into a dark picture with the return to international reports and the reference to “the decline of press freedoms due to instability, strife and fighting”. Libya’s total absence from the Arab Journalists Union’s freedom reports over the following years ends up in the 2018/2019 report, which also translates what happened to the union organization of Libyan journalists.
If we follow the EU’s reports on 2009, 2010/2011, and 2018/2019 on Egypt and Tunisia, we can conclude that the National Union of Tunisian Journalists has undergone deeper changes than its Egyptian counterpart, reflecting relatively more important developments in the direction of progress toward press freedom. While the Egyptian trade union’s concern became a cold, tasteless and smelly recording of some cases of its trapped journalists and their trial on the charge of “joining a banned group. The report said that the government has not yet decided to release false news “in a way that does not fully reflect the public image of the deterioration of press freedom in Egypt, and does not refer to the enemies of press freedom and journalists’ prisons, the Tunisian Union has developed expertise to monitor the violations to which journalists are subjected according to international professional safety standards. This is after the Tunisian trade unionists recorded their move from coverage and collusion on the misery of the press under the old regime to open the way for freedom of the press and the associated signs of its collapse, not to mention restoring the independence of the union itself and the efforts to go ahead in this way.
Media features and setbacks on the road to democracy
Infact, The uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, combined with the demand for democracy to the media in the three societies, have raised expectations of rapid, radical changes resulting in the freedom and professionalism of this media, thus facilitating the transition to democracy in general. This optimism reflects a document issued by UNESCO in summer 2011 regarding Egypt, the biggest three countries in the population, and in the state’s authority to have a greater share of the press, radio and television industry with the history of its radiation in its Arab regional environment. With reference to the need for the media in Egypt to develop and reform immediately, the introduction to the document, which was based on personal interviews with actors and media interactors in Cairo, said: “It seems clear that important changes are taking place in a consistent manner to ensure that the wrong untrue practices are prevented at least in the picture and the body we have seen before.”
The difficulties, obstacles and setbacks of reform and change, including Tunisia’s better-off state, were not immediately apparent in Cairo. At least within the largest Egyptian media institutions and by the summer of 2011 itself. The author of this paper sought to document what happened in Al-Ahram and how reform and change efforts quickly ended in failure. Thus, in a way that leads to the conclusion: “as journalists, we failed to change from within with our own forces when conditions in Egyptian society were more favorable in the immediate aftermath of January 25.” In this way, one of the dialectic aspects of information, democracy and tangible is drawn. Reform and change claimants were not able to push for written liberalization policies that adopted professional rules and ethics, nor to form responsible editorial boards, nor even to apologize to readers for what it was. Thus, it allowed the reproduction of pre-revolutionary days. And even worse.
By 2015, the evolution of the cult of the individual ruler of the, images, and news pages of the Egyptian daily newspapers could be monitored, drawing on samples from them since 2010, drawing out the relative retreat of this phenomenon in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, and then returning to growth, as the El Sisi’s arrival at the presidency in June 2014. Perhaps there is a need for additional observation about Egypt and also through cohabitation. Until the first half of 2014, it was possible to reflect with astonishment as we salute the young men we called “the Jerbandi journalists”, who risk being injured, arrested and even killed in order to cover the events in the field. As the author of this paper returns to the end of the summer of 2018 from a work assignment in Tunisia for almost two years, he observed that fellow journalists were completely or almost completely missing even from the open court halls and in public opinion cases, and even about journalists and their union. This is after being narrowed by the justice halls, among them many young people, including computer stand, camera and recording devices. When asked by members of the Press Syndicate Council, they reported that newspapers and other mass media and their different forms of property have become almost completely dependent on “the text that dictates their headquarters and offices or sends them through the What’sapp groups and avoids breaking his words in order to give reasons for safety”. Many facts confirm the ascendancy and control of a previous harsh control system over the press in Egypt over the past few years. This will include disabling the newspaper’s printing until you delete news topics or opinion articles. It also forced electronic press websites to delete its content..
In any case, the most recent count of journalists and media workers held in Egypt by mid -July 2019 includes 32 names , the oldest of which is in August 2013, most of whom are accused of “spreading false news ” as well as “joining a prohibited organization.” This is accompanied by the increased use of renewed preventive detention as a punishment for opponents or suspected opponents. This made the international organizations concerned with freedom of press and safety of journalists place Egypt in the last few years between the second and third ranks among the world countries regarding the imprisonment of journalists. While we are disregarding the restrictive and hazardous work environment, Egypt has not yet known the promulgation of a law to make information available. This notwithstanding the forward-looking general provisions of the 2014 Constitution on press freedom . It is a well known that access to and dissemination of information are foundational for building a democratic society.
In the Libyan case, the work environment in the field, offices and headquarters, and in front of the sources, quickly became a force restricting journalists and the citizen’s right to know. Immediately after Qaddafi’s ouster, the transitional authorities failed to enact and implement legislation to establish a new, free, professional media system. The collapse and absence of the State , divisions, fighting , militias , armed extremist groups and foreign interference have contributed to the formation of a dangerous press environment, whether in eastern or western Libya and other regions. This leads the media to more self-censorship and migration abroad . Only the Tunisian experience achieved a relative improvement in the press work environment and its impact on the citizen’s right to know and compare with what was before the revolution. The review of the latest annual report on the reality of press freedoms in Tunisia and the results of monitoring violations of journalists’ safety issued by the National Union of Tunisian Journalists may prove dangerous and disturbing, but this is not compared to the misery of the press work environment and the denial of the citizen’s right to information in Egypt and Libya. For example, the Tunisian Parliament passed the right to Access Information Act March 22, 2016, before which it was enacted early and in 2011 a decree also was passed “access to administrative documents of public structures”, a development that Egypt and Libya did not witness. However, the author f this paper tested as a press correspondent in Tunisia the chances of this access once and concluded that the reality still violates the texts and are far away from them.
It is clear that Tunisia has taken more important and more paid steps from Egypt and Libya on the road to moving from authoritarian government media to public service media by reforming those state-owned enterprises, particularly on Tunisian national radio and television. A look at the main news bulletin from Channel 1 in both the Egyptian and the Tounsi TV is to reveal the vast difference now. For example, it was not possible – not in channels, broadcasts, state-owned newspapers, and even private newspapers – to criticize or reticent the amendments to the Egyptian Constitution in April 2019. Those that reinforce the authoritarian and individual nature of government, confiscate the chances of circulating of power of the president’s poistion for the longest term and impose more subordination on the judicial authority to the executive political authority. The citizens’ opinion poll on fuel price increases in early July 2019 also came under question limits to justify increases .
In this way, the state-owned media play a negative role in a public opinion . By confiscating citizens’ rights to know and to see multiple opinions through free community dialog , as well as opportunities to express their opinions freely and multilaterally through the media , which they finance from taxes and bear the burden of losses resulting from their lack of professionalism , vitality and independence. On the contrary, there are indications in Tunisia that state -owned audio and visual media are being used to gain the confidence of listeners and viewers, and in a way that surpasses the private ones. Even during the social protest crisis on January 2018. Therefore, interrogators in a poll among a sample of Tunisian journalists considered that the public media is the most neutral and professional. This preference has been reinforced in favor of the audiovisual and audiovisual public media and the early report of the Independent Supreme Electoral Commission of Tunisia on the Constituent Assembly elections October 2011. This important development may be attributed to the early efforts of the National Information and Communication reform Authority , headed by colleague Kamal Al-Obeidi, to expedite the promulgation of Decree 116 on freedom of audio and visual communication , as well as to the efforts of the Subcommittee on Press and Information within the Supreme Authority to achieve the goals of the revolution. It is also attributed mainly to the fact that the will for change in the media scene was first created in Tunisia from civil society and media professionals, it was not a decision issued by the highest hierarchy of the state. However, some media professionals and those who were involved in the restructuring of the state-owned media scene are aware of the dangers of relapse and retreat and that the delay in cutting off the country further steps on the road to democracy , including judicial independence and reform , threatens the independence and professionalism of public media institutions.
he controversy and conflict in Tunisia during 2018 over a new audio- visual media body bill may suggest that the road is still difficult. But the situation is much better than the Egyptian track on state-owned media , which has been based on maintaining a large empire of press releases , broadcasts , and television channels without the will to reform or change until a late legislation was passed in 2018, strengthening the executive and the president’s control over these institutions and bodies Supervising it: The National Media Authority (Radio and Television), the National Press Authority (about 55 publications besides websites) and the Supreme Council for the Organization of Information. The practice also refers to a tendency to impose censorship, and confiscation. The Libyan track seems to have begun to get rid of state-owned media institutions originally set by the interim government on December 7, 2011, with one official television channel, one official radio station and one official press. With the country moves into division and these institutions were distributed among regions, and with the absence of the state, we come to assume that there is no radio, no television or no single newspaper that can work all over Libya , except with rare exceptions. State- owned television and radio seem to have failed to be free and professional and to gain public confidence in comparison with the Tunisian experience and in such a way that they lag behind private channels and broadcasts.
In general, the most prominent progress here in the difficult March of the authoritarian governmental media toward the public or public media came from Tunisia. This is despite the obstacles, and there is an early testimony by UNESCO in the fall of 2012 that, since January 14, 2011, public institutions in the audiovisual sector have improved the diversity of views, the degree of public representation and civil society organizations. However, there is no arrangement for public opinion in the appointment of the members of the Governing Council.” On July 31, the writer of the paper followed up on Tunisia’s national television, broadcasting a debate between three candidates for the post of President and Director -General of the National Television Corporation , organized by the Independent High Commission for Audiovisual Communication. It is an unprecedented event in Tunisia and indeed the entire Arab world, and it remains to be known that the Tunisian government retains the decision to hold positions in the audio -visual media and the state-owned press, which are reserved for itself, and unfrequently violates updated legal provisions on the application of the corresponding opinion (of HAICA) and self-adjusting organizations in the profession.
It seems that the most important development on the level of the emergence of new private mass media came in the radio sector for both Tunisia and Libya, while the authorities in Egypt kept their steel grip and monopolize the radio waves completely. In Tunisia, there are specific opportunities for the development of both linguistic and group radio. It can positively affect the transition to a democratic and decentralized society, especially with public interest and confidence indicators on radio compared with print and television. But all three experiences suffer from a lack of transparency in ownership of private television channels that are mainly for businessmen. A rare report on these channels in Tunisia warns against the dangers of monopolization and the negative influence of “the houses” and foreign capital on the political field and the move to democracy. A German researcher for Egypt between 2011 and 2013 demonstrates the influence of Mubarak’s “accountants” satellite channels in politics and their move from the Brotherhood’s apathy and the first elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsi, to incitement to exclusion and overthrow them and the restoration of full authority to the military. Not to mention a combination of satellite ownership and the establishment and financing of political parties. This is before the situation in Egypt reaches the purchase of secret security services for private channels and newspapers and their partnership with businessmen in this field. As in Tunisia , voices have increased inside Egypt warning against the negative effects of the so-called “political money”, the mystery of finance , doubts about Gulf foreign funds and the investment of businessmen with TV channels in party life, and after 25 private satellite channels were established after January 25, 2011. This is accompanied by the awareness that “having media channels is a powerful source of influence, pressure and public opinion. “
It is notable that this is the presence and influence of businessmen in the field of private media and politics together, which is offset by the paradoxes of the scarcity and weakness of party newspapers in the three countries even after the revolution. This is despite the relatively open space and varying degrees of experience in the three experiments for party pluralism and freedom of organization. This paradox is compounded by the perceived death and declining distribution of the print press. They offer higher opportunities for depth, opinion and inquiry treatments. None of the three countries – including Tunisia , which has the best chance of free and professional media – has known the creation of a transparent and reliable institutional mechanism that monitors, censors, and tells readers, listeners, viewers, and listeners, as well as advertisers of newspapers, newspaper purchases, radio, television viewing, and website browsing To develop objective and credible assessments of the opportunities for the media to influence the building of a public opinion on the transition to democracy.
In this context, the Egyptian experiences carry a paradox that suggests the necessity of being cautious about exaggerating the influence of the media – as such – on the general elections and the participation of voters.
Early with Egypt’s first post-revolution election (parliamentary between November 2011 and January 2012), a media researcher noted that the majority of voters moved in the opposite direction to incite talk shows against participation, and concluded “ the Egyptian media’s loss of its role , credibility and influence on public opinion.” The author of this paper can also note , in the light of his follow-up and preview of the first municipal elections in Tunisia after the May 2018 revolution, that privileged media services , especially on national public radio and television , concerning municipalities and their problems , a map of candidate lists and programs , have not significantly affected what has been shown to be the greatest decrease in voting In any general election after the revolution, it was down to 35.6%. Besides the elections, the Egyptian and Tunisian experiences raise question marks about the safety and fairness of public opinion polls, their positions and the possibility of misleading voters. There are some observations and assumptions that we can make here about Sigma Konsay in Tunisia, Al-Ahram Center for political and Strategic Studies and Bassira in Egypt. But, of course , we need a comparative, evaluation and monetary studies to perform these centers and to make them public after 2011.
In the light of the tracking of television satellite channels, radio, newspapers and news websites, hate speech, exclusion and incitement to violence are raised , not to mention excommunication in the name of Islam and excluding in the name of patriotism and the national state. An early report released in Cairo, on the second anniversary of the January Revolution, warned that the media would lose credibility because of the speech and its negative impact on prospects for democratic development. At this early time, it was remarkable – and, indeed, that by 2013, state-owned media had become strongly involved – that private newspapers were at the top of the ranks of these professional abuses. We do not have a comparative study that allows us to estimate the size of hate speech, violence , incitement and defamation between mass media in Tunisia , Libya and Egypt. Although the author presented a paper to a seminar in Morocco in January 2017, she concluded that the practice of defamation by the media in Egypt and Tunisia continued after the revolution together with a certain disparity over the greater chances of correction and response in the second. But the author of this paper, as well as his follow-up , goes on to assume that this speech, with all its components and negative dimensions, has reached an unprecedented and unprecedented extent in the Egyptian case in the last six years .However , there is a need to monitor and analyze what can be called the “Speech of Democratic hatred” in Tunisia as well. This is in light of the growing nostalgia for pre-revolutionary and for a strong authoritarian presidential system. In any event , the dual and contradictory nature and potential of the role of radio and television talk shows must not be overlooked. Sometimes, according to the personality and culture of the broadcaster or activist and the orientation of the means regarding democracy and professionalism, it can play a role in consolidating freedoms and democratic values and in the public’s interactive exercise of these values. This has occurred in many cases with the Egyptian experience in the immediate post -revolutionary period. However, later, it overcame disrespect, incitement, hate speech and censure, especially with the disappearance and emigration of many respected professional media men, and even preventing them from working.
Issues for discussion and recommendations
Freedom and professionalism in the media contribute to moving societies towards democracy. The elements of the transition to democracy and its consolidation from partisan pluralism, a peaceful transfer of power, institutionalization, good governance, an independent judiciary, freedom of organization, demonstration, protest, legitimacy, the right to oppose rulers and governments, and the growth and strengthening of civil society and its organizations, including trade unions, associations, and free, transparent, and fair elections, all of which constitute the enabling environment for the development of a free and professional media. The traditional media, including newspapers, radios, and televisions, are at the heart of this dialectical relationship. Egypt, Tunisia and Libya paths after the uprisings and revolutions of 2011 reflect media’s sensitivity to developments in the political and societal fluctuations provide stumbling and advancements. In this context and perspective, we assume that winning the battle of liberation and the professionalism of the media is subject to multiple, complicated and protracted conflicts, even in the best of luck, as is the case in Tunisia, especially in the absence of revolutionary decisiveness and estrangement in what happened in our Arab region with what was. As we assume that the traditional media with limited exceptions is not yet playing the large expected influential role in the processes of evolution towards democracy. We can also assume that the use and recruitment of media , both state – owned media or business are employed in blocking the transition to democracy which is a very prominent feature in the three tracks.
It appears that a degree of political will, along with the support and effectiveness of civil society, contributed to a wider margin of freedom for the traditional media in Tunisia after the revolution, compared to Egypt and Libya. Hence, it is possible to assume a greater role in the Tunisian experience to restore and enrich the transition to democracy. This is taking into account several obstacles and obstacles, even for Tunisia. Among them is the societal cultural polarization between “Islamists” and “secularists”, not to mention the effects of the threat of terrorism and the cost of combating it on society, the media, and freedoms, as well as the fragility of working conditions and the operation of media professionals
It seems that the ability of the public to know consciously and make decisions about the values of democracy appears to be evolving outside the traditional local media. The results of a poll conducted for the BBC in 2019, which included samples from the youth of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, confirm the acquisition of social media information, confidence at the expense of traditional media controlled by governments. This paper set that approach on the agenda of media professionals who aspire to freedom and professional and wonder how to rebuild a new media with its traditional and unconventional space. Here, several notes and questions are generated in light of the foregoing in this paper, among them: To what extent can self-criticism and reform be practiced from within the traditional Arab media? What are the opportunities for creating newspapers, radio, and TVs on innovative and serious principles committed to the values of freedom and professionalism, respect for facts, reason and the public, and to pushing forward democratic development, including adopting forms of ownership that include community, regional, and local media owned by cooperative (mutual) forms of journalists themselves
This paper recommends:
– The cooperation of active components of the new civil society in Tunisia after the revolution to launch and sponsor credible and popular media outlets, even if it was necessary to resort to subscription from citizens?
– Issuing periodicals with the launch of an an electronic site to build a new political culture that addresses the dialectic of media and democracy , the experiences and contributions from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, and to allow the exchange of experiences between media professionals, politicians and intellectuals involved in the change.
– Establishing an observatory for media freedom and professionalism that combines following-up and analysis of events in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. As the media monitoring standards on general election occasions are not sufficient in terms of their focus on forms of violations and commitment to equal opportunity, fairness and impartiality. we need a wider and more comprehensive and lasting monitoring, and also a contribution to the media or reluctance to spread the values and culture of democracy in our societies.
– A comparative study between the roles and problems of the performance of the Egyptian and Tunisian journalists unions after the revolution, and the author of this paper considers that he is interested in working on this study as soon as possible.
“We send them our press staff to photograph and distort their families in front of their neighbors. We are launching a wide-ranging campaign of distortion and intransigence. We say that they are traitors and foreigner agents. We say they sold the country. They are the enemies of the nation. Then we give the microphone to some ordinary citizens, and we give them such words and record them. Our journalists in the plateau are slaughter them in terms of media, and the public opinion believes in all distortions we have said”.
This was the summary of the meeting of the editorial board of the private “Al-Qana” channel two years ago, headed by Nabil Al-Qroui, the director general of the channel, the current presidential candidate and head of the “heart of Tunisia” party. In preparation for launching an unprecedented distortion campaign against the leaders of “I Watch” organization on the background of the organization’s publishing an investigation on the suspicion of tax evasion and financial corruption of the Qarui’s brothers’ companies.
This is not the first of its kind and may not be the last, but it is considered a point of difference in the Tunisian media and even a unique case that requires being studied and analyzed in order to understand the Tunisian media environment in the post-revolution era, and to stand on tracks that form the public opinion in Tunisia and innovative media guidance techniques. The new technology, digital narrative, and Marxist worlds have been brought to the attention of a stunning “Show” that facilitates the digestion of lies and allows the seizure of the tools of the public opinion industry to control it in order to guide it as required by the narrow financial, political or ideological interests of the media or entities that are They stand behind and control them as the hidden player controls the dancer’s puppets.
From the system’s side to interests and the Lobbies’ side
The information system in Tunisia cannot be understood as to its ability to control and guide public opinion during the period of democratic transition unless we can, at first and foremost, dismantle this system and determine its characteristics before and after the revolution. In addition to presenting a historical overview of the shape of the media scene in general, especially the circumstances that allowed the private sector to invest in this sensitive sector, which has always been the cornerstone of the mobilization, glorifying and misleading strategies that the previous regime has been pursuing at all stages of its development since independence in the 1950s and to the limits of the fall of rule Former president Zein El-Abdin Bin Ali was more than eight years ago.
During the rule of former Presidents Habib Bourguiba and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the media were a tool in the hands of authority and a pillar of dictatorship, where television, in particular, played other public videos, newspapers and magazines. A decisive role in the whitewashing of political crimes on the one hand, and the inflaming of the pictures of a large number of the corrupt people, in the first place, is Zahhar Bin Ali, his family and his entourage on the other. In addition, there is absolute control of public opinion by the authorities’ total, direct surveillance of the few activist media, most of which were in the public domain.
Since the 1990s, Ben Ali’s regime has tried to vary the media display to reduce the influence of foreign media, some of which have been critical of its policies.
This strategy pushed people close to the regime to lead the “new” media scene, where they agreed to buy or create audio, visual or written media with facilities that sometimes reached the point of harnessing some public banks to finance these projects without any guarantees. Many of these institutions were confiscated after the revolution to be under the supervision of the state (the share of the Malatry rock in the morning House, Hassan Trabelsi in Cactus Prod, Radio Mosaique and Serine Ben Ali in the shems FM).
The authority was monitoring the content and the use of the media to direct the public opinion through what was called the Tunisian Foreign Liaison Agency, which was established at the beginning of the 1990s to be the propaganda arm of the Ministry of Communication and those behind it the regime.
Media leaders in public institutions and private newspapers remained under the guidance of that agency, which in turn received orders directly from Carthage Palace under the supervision of Abdul Wahab Abdullah, the powerful arm of Ben Ali, who was called “mass media butcher”. Especially during election periods in which the press is totally disrupted and turned into a mere trumpet of power that spreads lies, promotes alleged achievements and distorts opponents and opponents.
The external contact agency has been operating for two decades (stalled in 2011 and finally resolved in 2012) following the carrot and stick policy. The tender was cut off for all media institutions, journalists and journalists who offer loyalty and loyalty to power, implement all their agendas and engage in its direction without any discussion, by controlling the advertising fund and public support.
On the other hand, the agency was waving a heavy stick against anyone who begging himself to violate the pre-determined line. This was claimed by a large number of media men who either failed to charge them in a way that found themselves in the cells of the regime, or were dismissed from their jobs, starved, and closed their work doors without the regime’s failure to torture their families and relatives.
Consequently, the media scene was dominated by a culture of yogurt and a thirst from the external contact agency either to stab the gazelle or to prevent the system’s evils. Public freedoms have been reduced, and freedoms of expression, political awareness, and community participation in public affairs have dropped to their lowest levels.
With the advent of the hurricane that devastated Barkan’s rule in early 2011, the Ministry of Communication and its propaganda arm, the Tunisian Foreign Liaison Agency, had to be abandoned and thus liberalized in the field of press, publishing and expression, including the liberalization of licensing and deregulation of private media ownership.
During the first two years following the fall of Ben Ali’s rule, the media scene recorded an unprecedented dynamic characterized by dozens of new headlines as well as an increasing number of radio, television and Internet channels. This number boom has devoted an unprecedented diversity of vision, perceptions and editorial lines, but now it has found itself in a state of chaos as a result of:
These gaps turned a number of media outlets during 2011 and 2012 into easy prey for money and politics, which quickly acquired most private media platforms, overpaid them, controlled their editorial lines, and directed them in a scandalous way, either to serve the Islamists’ splintering (Zaytoonah and Zetouna Hadaya channels, TN, the Mediterranean, Saraha FM, Al-Insan, etc.) or to serve the anti-Islamic part like the Nesma channel that enlisted the struggle against the Renaissance movement and the political Islam project, then turn into a trumpet of the “Nidaa Tounes” party’s campaign and for its current leader, Al-Baji Qaid Al-Sebssi. And eventually berthed in the port of the “heart of Tunisia” party bythe side of his friend Nabil Al-Qurawi, the owner of the same Nesma Channel.
The radical division that dominated the audio-visual media scene and the ideological but also the catchy state of the line contributed to misleading public opinion and employing it in fierce ideological battles. In parallel, a number of newspapers and websites financed by a number of corrupt businessmen or shadow pimps like Shafiq Al-Jarrah and Kamal Al-Latif have emerged.
These headlines, foremost among which are the newspapers “Althawra News”, “Dameer”, “Sada” and “Wakaea”, and the list goes on, they were mere platforms for misleading public opinion, whitening corrupt people, blackmailing businessmen, distorting political opponents, daily attacks on jurists and symbols of civil society.
The media content of the post-revolutionary media, specifically the private media, has adversely affected the formation of public opinion, the attention of Tunisians to ideological conflicts, the feeding of regional and doctrinal conflicts, and the poisoning of Saddam’s poisons by the manipulative identities. All this is at the expense of democratic transition, the defense of human rights and the establishment of a culture of anti-torture and impunity in the executive organs of the State.
On the other hand, some press and media headlines were very serious in raising the topics that concern Tunisians during the transitional period. The interactive blogosphere, citizen journalism, and association journalism ( Newa website, Gadal website, enkifadah site, Tunisian Al-Hiwar channel in Al Taher Bin Hussein’s version, Bondi Blog site, PR Al Aman organization, I Watch, Al-Busala organization, etc.) In a significant way, the blockade imposed on public opinion by commercial media led by the Tunisian Al-dialogue channel and Nesma channel was the main tool to fuel ideological battles, party conflicts, the whitening of corrupt people and the misleading of public opinion.
The above-mentioned alternative press sites briefly occupied an important space in the media and communications scene and became an ideal tool for adjusting public opinion by telling it well and objectively, providing high-level credibility information and directing it to the real battles of transitional justice, the return of torture inside the detention centers and prisons, and the outbreak of a scourge Corruption, the control of the Lobbies and monopoly groups over the nation’s capabilities and the plundering of its day.
The main reason why these platforms were excluded from employment was their economic independence, which allowed them to escape from the hands of businessmen, the authority of the two teners and the agendas of the media-sponsoring State. It is unfair, however, not to point out that, despite all its many indifferent and many shortcomings, public information has played a decisive role in providing information that is of minimal credibility, as well as in seeking to clean up the political climate and the general public from the seeds of hatred and hatred and in clearing the accounts. By providing a balanced media material.
The transmission of the second National Public Channel for the first Parliament after the Revolution (National Constituent Assembly) informed the public about how to manage the public affairs inside the parliament, and allowed him to learn about the law-making and parliamentary blocs during voting, etc.
Who owns the media?
Television in Tunisia has special care by the owners because it serves political ends and attracts the most attention of the two users. Television is the most popular media in Tunisia, where 98% of families have a home appliance. 83% of Tunisians are based on this means to follow the news. Moreover, 61% of Tunisians consider that the information transmitted by television is reliable according to the figures of the National Institute of Statistics.
Breaking the state’s monopoly on visual media began at the beginning of the 2000’s. In 2005, the first private television channel to see the light in Tunisia was
Hanaabel Channel which was launched by one of the business men who has a close relationship with Ben Ali and then Nesma channel Nabil al-Qirawi was launched, it was launched in the pilot broadcast on March 23, 2007 after being inaugurated by the then Minister of Communication Rafi Dakhil.
Despite this openness to the private sector, the distribution of licenses was based on vague and arbitrary criteria based mainly on proximity or proximity to the regime, or on the content of programs that were blind to the reality of the political reality in the country, as confirmed by the output of the “Media ownership Project in Tunisia“. (Research project from the completion of reporters without borders and the Tunisian calligraphy Society).
The only opposition channel “Tunisian Al-Hiwar” was launched by its then-owner Taher bin Hussein in 2003 from abroad because of the impossibility of obtaining a license within Tunisia. Tunisians were heading to Arab and international channels like “Aljazeera”, “Arabic” and French channels in search of independent media content that was not controlled by the dictatorial regime at that time.
The revolution contributed to breaking the monopoly of members of Bin Ali’s family, its two relatives and those close to his regime for the media scene, as the TV channels were numerous and diversified after distributing new licenses. Today, the visual media scene contains two public TV channels and about 10 private channels (a number in continuous change), some of which are not regularly active due to financial difficulties.
Given its high follow-up ratios relative to the rest of the media, TV channels have become a popular destination for a category of political leaders. A number of television channels in Tunisia have become directly or indirectly linked to politicians or political parties, despite the existence of a legislative basis that hates this phenomenon.
In this context, A group of channels close to Islamists appeared, while officials and owners a number of other channels’ political trends did not hide their affiliations, which were translated in many cases into employing media content to gain narrow political gains or supporting certain parties, which made these platforms turn into boxes of political and party propaganda during Electoral benefits.
Nabeel Al-Qirawi, owner of a popular channel, for example, was told that he was a member of the leadership of the Nidaa Tounes party, although the HAICA law makes a distinction between the two characteristics (political leadership and investment in audio and visual media). He left the party an did not reform his legal mistake but rather to establish another political project that became clear of its features recently, entitled “the heart of Tunisia” party, ignoring all the issues and problems that he pursued against the backdrop of strong suspicions of tax evasion and the use of his media platform to distort political and ideological opponents.
Osama bin Salem, founder of Al-Zaytoonah and Al-Zaytoonah Hidayah, was also partisan and non-politically independent but a leader and a senior official in Al-Nahda party in addition to other political missions. The renaissance television TN was linked to an international corporate network that protected tax havens to disguise their owners’ identities and obscure their sources of financing.
For his part, Al-Arabi Nasra, founder of Hanebeel, has employed his channel for years to promote his image before he missed his shares in the channel in preparation for running for presidency 2014.
In parallel, the businessman and Free Patriotic Union President Salim Al-Riahi broke into the media field from the gate of Radio Word and then the Tunisian channel (the Tunisian dialog later) to support his political presence, face corruption and money laundering suspicions that followed him and disturb his political ambitions. The southern channel of its current owners, businessman and politician Mohammad Al-Ayashi Al-Ogrodi, founder of the Tunisian Movement for Freedom and dignity, did not dissume this base either.
Private radio stations were also a kiss of employment and political investment before and after the revolution. The radio “Shams FM”, accompanied by Sirin Bin Ali and her husband, businessman Marwan Al Mabrouk, was a stark example of the ruling family’s penetration into the media. The same is true of “Mosaic FM” radio, in which Belhassan Trabelsi owned 13 percent of the shares.
A number of channels related to politicians and political parties are linked, despite the presence of a law attending that
nabeel al karoui
Al arbi nasra
Ossema ben salem
After confiscating Trabelsi’s share and then turning into it, the businessman replaced Belhassan Trabelsi with his share in mosaic.
Zhara-Tharbasi (a partner of Belhsin Trabelsi at Carthage Cement), after the revolution, chose to experiment with media investment. This is mainly reflected by the fact that it also holds 8 per cent of the shares of Radio Jawhara FM.
Some other emerging broadcasters with a local and regional aspect still have unclear sources of funding, so that their editorial lines are changing as electoral benefits approach or the composition of the two-month and capital contributors changes, most of which are likely to be employed to serve more paid agendas.
On the other side of the audio-visual media, the less “consumed” written press is considered in Tunisia, although 38% of Tunisians confirm the authenticity of the information reported by the written media according to INE figures.
Most newspaper owners are family companies, most of which are not active in other areas except newspapers. The written press sector developed after the revolution to reach 228 periodicals, but then there was a sort of counting, as many newspapers stopped because of lack of financial resources or their relation with the old regime, according to what is indicated by “the media ownership project in Tunisia”.
Today, dozens of titles have been removed from the market and only about 50 periodicals remain. Since the Ministry of Communication and its propaganda arm were abandoned the Tunisian Foreign Liaison Agency , the old patrols have lost the main part of its entrance to the continent , which was granted in the form of donations, aids and declarations in return for offering obedience and loyalty to the authority , whitening its corruption and preventing its excesses and crimes.
Fallen masters and creating new ones
Reflecting on the media scene that preceded the December January 17-14 revolution will not find it very embarrassing to say that the media organizations that were active at that time, in their public and private sectors, were only part of or emerging from the propaganda system of government . The opposition parties, like “the Al-Mawkef, the New Road, and citizens, as well as the Tunisian Al-Hiwar channel”, were excluded by some opposition party titles, as well as by its owners in addition to Al-Taher Bin Hussein, Radio 6 owner and the Word broadcast under the supervision of Suham Bin Sadrin.
The media landscape was, then, a reflection of the interplay between politics , media , and finance that prevailed. Only some of the above- mentioned opposition titles survived the specter of employment , which had little influence on public opinion owing to the tightening of their publication by dictatorship.
After the revolution, the “stick” of dictatorship fell with it and the “carrot” of the regime fell with it, and the old platforms of the former regime, in addition to the vast majority of the new platforms, went out looking for a new “master” who continues to give it its share of the “islands”.
This new Master has often been – especially during the electoral benefits – taking the form of a political party, but he has often taken the form of a corrupt or corrupt businessman. The financial arm of political and party currents has often been pushed to the front to buy media outlets and professionals in order to serve their political interests in exchange for “safety” or, for example, to convey its ” instrument of forgiveness” so that it continues its play in a complete devour of accountability and punishment, and Shafiq Al-Jaraiyah, Salim Al-Reahi and Nabil Al-Qrouiis are good examples for that.
The main gain in Tunisia’s revolution, with the general assembly of observers, is freedom of expression in general and freedom of the press in particular. The Tunisian elite understood early that freedom of expression, if not sustained by strong and lasting institutions , would be reversed over time or turned into chaos at best Accordingly, freedom of expression and creativity has been incorporated into the Constitution as well as the establishment of the independent audiovisual media body, the public structure entrusted with the task of modifying audiovisual media institutions , granting licenses and punishing violators.
Today, the organization finds itself almost incapable of performing its missions after some mass media, topped by a population channel of its king Nabil Al-Qiraui , whose political ambitions are on the board’s decisions , enquiring with a party “immunity” granted to it in return for providing communication services to it during the previous election campaigns.
- The draft ownership of media in Tunisia
- National Institute of Statistics
- Independent High Commission for Audiovisual Communication (HAICA)
- Organization I Watch
- Enkifada website
- Nawah website
- Legal agenda
- Northwestern University in Qatar (2015), Media use in the Middle East 2015
- UNESCO (2012), Assessment of Media Development in Tunisia
According to your experience in the field of journalism and media in general, do you think that the Tunisian media performs its duty towards its fans and meets the expectations in the context of professionalism, or has it turned into a way to influence and manipulate public opinion?
The answer is self-evident and is backed by a set of studies and research. The Tunisian public today is completely dissatisfied with what the Tunisian media offers. One of the studies published by the Center for Prospecting Opinions concluded that the percentage of those who are dissatisfied with the Tunisian media exceeded eighty percent, whereby the public considers that the media has deviated from its basic message and has slipped into a culture of excitement, arousing feelings and relying on “Buzz” programs which resulted in objectification of media content and its transformation into purely commercial and communication content. The flaw lies in falsifying people’s awareness and promoting a consumption pattern that does not really reflect audience expectations.
Does your position above apply to both public and private media, or does each sector have its own characteristics?
The overwhelming media on the scene in Tunisia is the private media. The public media is almost exclusively on the national TV channel. The latter can also be summarized in the news broadcast, which still has respectable follow-up ratios because, despite some occasional distortions, it still provides credible material and is far from a culture of excitement and forgery.
Anyone who wants to talk about the media in Tunisia and dismantle its system must, essentially, turn to private media institutions, as they are the ones that create public opinion and influence it according to their narrow private interests, which usually intersect with the interests of influential businessmen and the bulk of the political and ideological entities surrounding them. On Nessma and Tunisian dialogue channels, are the best example for that.
The Tunisian dialogue channel, for example, was transformed into a platform for daily attacks on the government whenever its owner, Sami Al-Fihri, is exposed to judicial problems. It is the same thing that Nessma TV has been doing for years, as its owner, Nabil Karoui, who had the second largest vote in the last presidential elections, has turned it into a flexible tool for settling accounts with political opponents in addition to using the channel to attack the symbols of the state, civil society, etc. All of this is taking place within the sight of the concerned authorities, executive and oversight bodies, that have been unable to find a fundamental legal solution to deter the channel without being at the expense of freedom of expression and the press.
As Chairman of the Ethics Committee at the heart of the Tunisian Journalists Syndicate, we would like to know the ways and means by which you are informed of the abuses committed by journalists or press organizations? Is the public communicating with you to report, or is the matter subject to the monitoring effort of the Committee?
First, it is necessary to emphasize that the committee was established since 2018 during the plenary session of the Press Syndicate, and the aim behind its establishment was to contribute to modifying the media’s scene. We are neither a reporting authority nor a public prosecution, nor can we in any way impose on media organizations what they should pass and what they should not. We do not get involved in the editorial line and do not adopt defamation policy.
Our primary mission is to adjust the scene by first playing a mediating role among fellow journalists among themselves in order to manage conflicts and disputes before their access to justice. In the sense that we play a conciliatory role in dissolving disputes and conflicts and purifying the atmosphere for the public in the media sector so that it does not reflect negatively on the press content so it becomes a material for settling personal accounts. On the other hand, the committee is communicating with the editorial boards in order to draw its attention to violations of journalistic ethics. We have relied many times on complaints that we have received directly or through social networks, from the general public. Some of these complaints were related to media engagement with major national events such as natural disasters, major road accidents, and coverage of political and electoral stations.
During the beginning of December of 2019, the Tunisian street was shaken by a traffic accident that claimed the lives of at least 29 young men and women. The Tunisian street was in mourning, and was looking for media content that would rise to the moment, but they were surprised by some private channels, especially the Tunisian dialogue channel “Al-Hiwar TV”, as they broadcasted contents similar to cabarets and discos. It was a catastrophic event for the psyche of a large segment of Tunisians who resorted to social media in order to denounce what is being passed on to the media and to demand respect for the general state of mourning in the country.
Day after day, our media proves that it is purely commercial and that the content it broadcasts does not live up to the expectations of the public. This deepens the gap between the public and the media, and creates mistrust in the local media.
Regarding the “lack of confidence in media” which you referred to, do you not think that this situation would undermine the remaining democratic transition in Tunisia and legislation to trample on the gains of freedom and pluralism?
I will say it frankly, that the Tunisian public abandoned the local media and directed towards the external media (French, major Arab channels, etc.) is an automatic translation of the state of rejection for local media, which, as mentioned above, has turned into a flexible tool that politicians and businessmen use to pass communication messages that have contributed significantly in disrupting the democratic transition and delaying Tunisia’s exit from a state of political instability.
What is required here is not to impose prior censorship on the content produced by the media, but to apply the law to all violators. There are channels and radio broadcasts without a license, and others trample all laws and covenants regulating the profession of journalism.
It is not possible to talk about democracy and freedoms without talking about a free, transparent, and serious media that deals with national issues in every literal way, away from the logic of militarism and ideological, political and cheap employment.
The media has contributed to demonizing the practice of politics and weakening the state institutions in exchange for strengthening parallel entities that are waiting for the country to collapse, mafia-type entities that only care about accumulating fortunes and easy gains; we should reform all these defects to reform the country. Because the public audience will not remain passive, but there is a day will come when they revolt against this media which is not representing them.
After the wave of Arab Spring revolutions at the beginning of 2011 which requested in its first demands and cried out for the right of expression for citizens in their affairs and the countries’ affairs without a deterrent authority or a major force that restricts their freedom, and the concept of hate speech or discourse emerged in the MENA region and it included changes in many used inciting concepts either on the ground or on the traditional media and networking sites of a social.
Hate speech to this day does not have a specific and material definition that is agreed upon by all countries of the world, as some of the definitions contribute to blocking knowledge and arousing vagueness around the term, and according the Cambridge Lexicon defines hate speech as a public discourse that directs expressions of hate or incitement to violence towards a person or group based on race, color, religion , sexual identity, etc. Weinstein Urban Dictionary goes on to describe hate speech as “demonic” and at the same time he describes that the passage of special laws to prevent hate speech prevents people from expressing their opinions towards a particular person or event.
In this sense and to this day the term of hate speech a debatable one the world and in the United States America, specifically the First Constitutional Amendment, which prohibits passing laws that restrict freedom of expression or hinder the freedom of the press , and thus it made hate speech possible as part of Freedom of expression unless these expressions or terms lead to criminal acts or behaviors. In Libya and the countries of the region this is completely different from how it is in the first world countries and beyond the Mediterranean, where hate speech is the primary means used by many local and regional media outlets through public for promoting some civil groups or military categories who are trying to support political figures or specific community characters at the expense of other parties, as well as the use of offensive terms used by some individuals, groups and entities. There are many methods of hate speech and inciting language in the Libyan media, including:
– Speeches broadcasted through direct radio or audio means: a speech in which the correspondent at the particular radio channel practices an offensive speech on certain groups for national, ideological or regional reasons such as broadcaster of Libya Al-Hadath channel Zakaria Bouhali who threatened a caller on air telling him that he is targeted and would be executed once Marshal Khalifa Haftar forces enter Tripoli, and this is considered a huge media practice violation.
– Comprehensive radio or audio means speech: It is the speech in which the speaker directs generalizable words or phrases to specific peoples or entire countries, such as the media speech directed towards the State of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Turkey, Egypt and United States of America.
– Unilateral radio speech or audio: which is a speech directed against a particular character, whether political, religious, or public or sportive … etc. . Such as : the incitingspeech against the Mufti Sheikh Al-Sadiq al – Gharyani , the former National Congress Chairman Muhammad al- Maqrif, the current Prime Minister, al-Sarraj, and Marshal Khalifa Haftar … etc.
Media means in Libya are public platforms that provide content that is relatively inaccurate in many situations, as there are some means that depend in its sources on social media pages and accounts on networking sites which are not normally eligible for press services, also some Libyan television channels steal or plagiarize through displaying and broadcasting some articles and content prepared by other individuals or entities such as stealing some videos and using them within the material presented by the channel , and thus these radio platforms are unreliable sources and what they carry out is inconsistent with the accuracy and professionalism of free and fair media practices.
Between the various methods of inciting language used on traditional media and social media, there are various forms which contributed to enriching that content such as defamatory campaigns through publishing photos, videos or private recordings for example the incident of publishing the private photos of former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and defamation of the former head of General National Congress Nouri Abusahmain, this normally happens within a breach of the profession’s basics and press ethics.
There is also the organized electronic or media attack , such as direct coverage or stigma through the weekly program broadcast on Libya’s Al-Ahrar channel which hosts Mr. Noman Benotman, Head of the Quilliam International Foundation, which continues to be broadcasted almost throughout the weekly period for more than four hours on air , where guest uses expressions of insult, sarcasm and ridicule to attack many Libyan individuals and international personalities which have played a big role in circulating hate speech through general threats or private threats . They also use bargaining or bartering in exchange for not publishing confidential or personal information related to an individual or a group or in another words “in exchange for not compromising”.
153 daily breaches of Libyan TV channels in 2017
(Professional fallacies in covering direct events, expressions of violence and direct incitement)
Of the content provided
Of the content provided
However, the Libyan media has many times became a partner in strategic inciting and worsening of the ongoing conflict today in Libya and also contributed to empowering and creating new conflicts through highlighting false news or events that never occurred or exaggerating in numbers of fallen victims during certain events or giving justifications for violence by showing the heroicness of certain parties and the demonization of others, and this is an direct contradiction to the basics of traditional or digital media.
On the other hand, many journalists believe that freedom of expression cannot be restricted to terms such as hate speech or the language of incitement and violence, as this hinders the expression of public and private opinion about specific issues or problems, and this is what many of them describe as objective criticism of many incidents and issues of public opinion, and thus they believe that freedom of expression contributed to dealing with these issues and revealing aspects of corruption in them.
Likewise, it is not possible to disregard the explicit attempts to issue threats, in which the program host direct statements that attack individuals and prevent them from expressing their opinion on air, whether by alleging that the lost connection to the call or through closing it intentionally, and this contradicts with the citizens’ right to express their views through visual and audio press and radio outlets and reflects the extent of the directed media’s dogmatism which is influenced by non-neutral entities or funds coming from beyond borders and seas. Indeed , according to the latest report for the year 2017 which was issued by the Libyan Center for Freedom of the press, there are approximately 153 violations committed daily on the television Libyan channels, which varies between professional fallacies in direct coverage of events , expressions of and direct incitement of violence, as Tanasuh Libyan TV was among the first channels to have the greatest deal of professional violations committed, as it 41% of its presented content is filed with stigmatization and stereotyping and posting pictures of the dead and their families, and this is a flagrant violation for the right persons to agree to publish photos or not , we should also note the negative role played by Mufti Al-Sadiq Al-Gharyani through his program which is broadcasted on Tansasuh TV channel had a great impact on fueling the crisis on the ground through religious arguments or fatwas that have contributed to the participation of waves of youth in armed groups and war arenas.
Al-Hadath TV channel was ranked second with 17% as they broadcasted the statements of some of the prisoners and fighters across its screen, as well as pictures of some of the dead and described them with the strongest terms such as humiliation, stigma and mockery, and in 3rd place came Libya News Channel as it launched a series of arbitrary detention and willful killings threats which is a criminal violation against humanity.
This report reveals to us the extent of the media’s intolerance in favor of its financiers and its adopted ideologies, as these channels are considered the main contributor to wars or conflicts on the ground which would not have occurred if they were absent.
All aforementioned cases contradict with freedom of expression formally and substantially, as this kind of language authorizes fighters on battling grounds to commit crimes, abuses and violations in the name of religion or for the sake of their tribe or party which they follow.
Here freedom of expression stands at crossroads where many people find it difficult to describe or interpret as what one person consider as freedom of expression other may consider it as a violation of it and vice versa.
As for another issue, one of the broadcasters mentioned the names and titles of individuals he considers enemies of the General Command of the armed forces in the eastern region and incited to kill them on air and to target their families, children and the people who are loyal to them, this is considered to be a direct use of inciting language and mobilizing people against them , as the descriptions were used to describe them were ones that stripped them of their humanity, such as words like slaves and mercenaries and also descriptions of animals like rats and mice … etc. .
The incompetent undermining handling of sensitive issues by Libyan media professionals such as mentioning certain names and tribes is a great threat to the social fabric of society which is decaying due to past and present media wars as many media professionals got involved in the midst of ideologization and politicization which certain parties and states pushed towards it and interfering directly in Libyan internal affairs.
As the excesses and violations committed by Libyans are a series of cultural accumulations resulting from fragile and non-subjective ideas, these fragile ideas have created a bundle of political, ideological or intellectual stereotypes regarding differences , so once we are certain that we can confront these differences through free media in this time, distant offensive tools gets used immediately, and this experimental accumulation has cognitive remnants that are the main reason for the negative handling of many geopolitical and social issues.
The negative experimental accumulation of a large group of contemporary Libyan media, loaded with informational and ethical disinformation, has a direct impact on the democratic transition, which is a key stage in the process of political reform within changing or transitional societies. These breaches are a series of obstacles that prevent the positive handling of Libya’s transition and thus stop completely advancement toward the passage to a free democratic transition. One of the main functions that the media must have is to facilitate is decision-making, as the media is capable of having a real influence on political decision-making or imposing it or even preventing it from being followed by the following audience. This takes place either through positive decision-making that serves the society and the public, such as opening files of corruption and public opinion issues, which are useful and positive for the public, or which are negatively addressed by pushing parties away from other parties or hiding certain personalities. This, in turn, is contrary to the moral message that an honest media must ensure.
The range of experimental accumulations that it has entered and is still undergoing in the Libyan media is a natural product of the existing dogmatism, on which the mass media, in their general view, are called for democratic change. The changes on the ground and in parallel with the foreign policy – with the neighboring countries that are described as friends and allies of Libya – play an important role in turning the media discourse from a solid one to a soft one that matches the current circumstances. Also, the material submitted periodically is another variable data according to ideological changes and political priorities.
It is not hidden that ideological differences in Libyan media are an added media and public value if they are properly employed, but an opposite of the concept of proper media ideology has been employed, which has set these channels as platforms for slowing the transition toward political democracy and nation-building and running for presidential and parliamentary elections. Media ideology has not only misled the amount of excessive support for its parties, and has turned a blind eye to its media or public accountability through its platforms and channels. On the contrary, it has contributed to concealing facts and files from the audience involved and violating every ethics of the press and media profession in pushing for public affairs reform and a democracy of opinion. Hate speech driven by political, intellectual, or historical reasons also extended to alternative or digital media – through social media, many (digital toxins) were broadcast. Through pages of Libyan media, including photographs of torture of bodies and the use of terms that are evidence of actual violence, persecution and incitement against minorities and vulnerable groups.
The Libyan media and a post-revolutionary shifted from the cognitive inertia and the dictatorial political constraints of the Gaddafi era and the false government trumpets and voices to a period of laxity filled with hate messages, during which even defenders of freedom of expression pointed out that direct hate speech required private and rapid treatment Especially those that are not measured within the marketplace of ideas.
It is worth mentioning that challenging the religious authorities of some clerics or the established beliefs of some people and exploiting them to cause political confusion or wars driven by extremist religious thought is a guaranteed freedom of expression and is not subject to legal control. For example, the bitter criticisms that hit the highest religious authority in Libya (Libyan Fatwa House) The criticism is based on a genuine desire to change the exploitation based on the (religious immunity) and the mass base of the Mufti and his men, and the criticism and expression of politicians on the media considered it a hate speech directed at them, while a constructive expression guaranteed to all. Officials and statesmen view such criticism as a kind of hate speech as a pretext for silencing media men and for impunity. There are also no specific legal limits to the protection of confidentiality by journalists, since there are no real guarantees that the media will cease to expose public and political figures and that any obligation to maintain personal confidentiality is nothing more than the conduct of the media as a matter of morality.
The media are less aware and more puzzled in their daily response. They are led by individuals governed by certain backgrounds, interlinked and unrelated to domestic politics, without the news values and international political systems of some media subjugate the tribe as a political tool that is more important than a state’s support for the event We are trying to strengthen this aspect and strengthen these tribal bodies more than anything else. For example, hate speech driven by tribal intolerance is defined as a logical consequence of the range of experimental accumulations of information or the media, because it is therefore linked to domestic politics and tribal influence much more than foreign policy. This would implicitly affect Libya’s transition to a modern and civilian state. In addition to the fact that the government has not yet done so, it has not yet done so. Etc. Not to mention the unserious attempts at political polarization in Libya, it precludes direct access to an election event that is popularly and internationally expected. Many Libyan media are trying to convince public opinion that elections are an integral and difficult event, with security chaos, widespread weapons, and a lack of elites leading the election to safety – the right thing to do in its fear and its content, but its results are wrong. Political procrastination through the media to reach the elections by marketing the idea of the wrong timing is an effective contribution to prolonging the transition and the spread of the state’s absence further and consequently the complications of this disease increase day after day.
While the existing media forces are the same balance through the number of counter channels, modes of supply and inference used, as well as sources of internal and external financing, this makes the negative media situation so long as the funds provided for these channels and broadcasts remain in a state of unproductive condition (political investment in the media). Which accompanies any regional or global change – for example, Channel 218, which claims its neutrality or its support for liberal values in the establishment of the rule of law and the Constitution, also has certain external and ideological support that it cannot be neutral for as long as (the media deal is under contract) This does not make the media channel guilty, but it makes it under investigation and conditional professional binding. On the other hand, Libya’s free channel, which attributes itself to the small and the biggest supporting incubator, the State of Qatar, which is mentioned by the free Libyan media as a sponsor and contribution to solving the Libyan conflict and reuniting the Libyan parties.
The real crossroads at which Libya’s current media stand is a series of conceptual disorders of a culture of peace, moderation, and peaceful coexistence among all Libyan components – today’s media is a woman of what is happening on the ground, a means of verbal and visual expression available to them to dump all the troubled concepts that some (and not all) possess. Through these platforms, the results from today’s hate speech are clear and measurable:
- – A tribal conflict based on a political military and parliamentary quota, and this is the reason for the idea that exclusion is not based on the lack of qualifications and characteristics for political participation, but the exclusion was based on previous tribal relics.
- – engaging in using extraneous violent terms such as stigmatization, exchange of charges without clear evidence, clear condemnation of media values, and immediate transfer of physical battles to offensive media battles on television, led by him in what he calls the media elite and parliamentary leaders.
- – The transition political process has been attracted, drawn, and moved into advanced struggles – that would have not existed in case of accelerating election access, such as the political division of executive and parliamentary governments, financial institutions, etc.
- – External escalation, tension between the parties currently in conflict and the task of finding solutions satisfactory to all parties is difficult. These results highlight the fact that the language used in media is the solution to the ideal political solution. Among the features and characteristics of the typical media frameworks, language is the way to deliver messages of ending wars, conflicts and political differences. Thus, we can summarize that hate speech, whatever it still shares and shares it directly with freedom of expression, but it contributed directly to the aggravation of the Libyan crisis in the media and on the ground, and that describing the quick treatments of this speech is the accurate diagnosis of the motives of each group for using it. In diagnosis, we can learn about treatment and preventive action whether it is through laws that control this speech and the strict punishment policy of those who lag behind it, or even through intensive training programs for them and their contribution to the development of the above-mentioned laws, or even through the establishment of an observatory that assesses and monitors professional breaches on the media.
- – Finally – despite the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights, in which any claim of political, national or religious hatred that incites inequality and violence against others is prohibited, the cycle of conflict in Libya remains a continuous process, with the main thrust of the resulting media and critical dialogues.
Ahmed El-Fitouri (born 1955) is a writer, novelist, owner and editor of the “Al-Mayadeen” weekly, which was published between May 2011 and September 2014 in Benghazi. He is currently residing in Cairo. He contributes through writing regular articles in the Libyan newspaper and website, Al-Wasat. He was a prisoner of conscience for about ten years, during the time of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi1978 and in 1988, he released and gained many experiences in the cultural press in Libya. In this interview, which was conducted specifically for “DAAM” periodical in July 2019 and it was an opportunity to explore his views on the reality of the media in his country after the revolution as he visits its cities until now.
How do you see the legislative framework for media changes in Libya after the 17th of February Revolution?
To date, no new laws concerning the press and media have been issued in Libya. Only laws which allow freedom of the press release that were out of order during Gaddafi’s days were activated. I also did not hear or know of any important and influential arrangements in organizing the media situation after the revolution.
What is your assessment of what happened to the official media, and were there attempts to move towards a public media?
The official media was automatically liberated after the revolution, with the collapse of Gaddafi’s authority. But in the end, things were fixed as they used to be. State media remained affiliated with the interim transitional authority. Perhaps what is new here is that you can issue a newspaper, and radio broadcasts are allowed by interpreting the press law. As for press publications, about 365 new editions were issued between 2011 and 2012.
Has there been any shift in the relationship between the state’s authority and the official media?
There has already been a discussion about shifting official media into public media, but it has fallen short of practical results. And of course there was a movement within the official media institutions to discuss their transformation into public media. There was a kind of openness to radio performance, for example. I think that what happened to these institutions have witnessed a case of random self-liberation in the beginning as a consequence for the erosion of state power and the disintegration of these media institutions relationship with the interim authorities before returning to a dependent relationship.
Can you brief us on the “Al-Mayadeen”’s weekly expereince as an example of what happening in the press scene after the revolution?
Al-Mayadeen was distributed all over Libya. It was issued in Benghazi and the copies were being transported by aero planes and if air traffic is disturbed. We send to distributors in major cities and from there to less important cities and villages. The newspaper has a maximum circulation of 10,000 copies. It is a good number for a week. We did not have much financial burden. Most of the work is voluntary; we were not having financial troubles, as prepaid contributions helped us to keep going on, we had around 1,000 subscription, and expenses was not really a burden as the printer owner was really going easy on us.
What is the best distribution number achieved by the Libyan newspapers after the revolution?
The maximum distribution number achieved by the Libyan newspaper is what “Libya Newspaper” which is issued by the Ministry of media and Culture and that number was 20 – thousand copies. But it is distributed mainly to the state institutions, while we in “Al-Mayadeen” were targeting people directly as we distributed even in villages and we also gain accessed the Libyan reader in Tunisia.
Was there an advertising market and did you have a share of it?
Some organizations supported us with advertisements due to the newspaper’s success.
What were the red lines facing Al-Mayadeen?
We did not feel that we are facing any red lines except the authority of the streets.
Why did Al-Mayadeen stop, despite the success you’re talking about?
The newspaper was suspended in 2014 because the distributing driver who distributes its copies was attacked in Misrata.
How do you generally assess the role of the media in Libya after the revolution regarding the transition to democracy?
Before the country did not have real media. It was propaganda and publications but we had no press. Therefore, when the situation in the country was changed widely, the professional and unprofessional media appeared strongly. I remember that an early of (BBC) said that Libya has taken great steps on the road to press freedom. And that was true as we started from scratch, of course there were and will continue to be errors in the practice of the media, its beginners’ mistakes, but the scene in general resembles a positive development in press freedom and elections.
Have the media in Libya been able to develop mechanisms for self-adjustment and for the sake of professionalism?
I was against promulgating a press honor code in Libya; because of the overpowering forces were conservatives and Islamists and I said that we should have an honorable profession first and then legislate a code for it later and there is no need for setting early restrictions on press.
There is a perception that suggests that Libya does not have today a media outlet that operates on a national level and covers the entire country because of the fighting and division… What do you think?
We have probably the UAE-backed TV channel “218”, it has reporters throughout Libya who perform amazingly and follow thoroughly local news even at the level of countryside villages. And that did not happen before in the history of Libya.
Here, electronic technologies helped to overcome the Libyan division, as well as the nature of Libya as a country with long borders. But actually there is no national newspaper now in Libya. National newspapers are dead. Today there is no newspaper that can be classified as No. 1 in Libya due to the security situation.
Are radio stations becoming the most important outlet among media’s outlets in Libya?
No… I personally consider that TV is number 1, 2 and 3 and then come social media and radio in rank.
National Libyan Radio was unable to develop itself and attract audience and I think that private radio broadcasting defeated it
We have to look beyond politics here, as now in Libya, there are television and radio stations that are concerned mainly with social, cultural and artistic interests. This is what attracts the general population of Libyans as these subjects go beyond political divisions that are reflected in media broadcasting and political opinion programs. This is an important development for the media in Libya.
How do you see the most prominent general features of the new media scene in Libya?
First, I noticed that most of the current employees in the Libyan media are youth and they occupy leadership positions in various media outlets. Secondly, there is a professional development related to the profession due to excessive training and transferring experiences. We had before the revolution a Media College in Benghazi and another one was established in Tripoli during Gaddafi’s reign. But the development we are witnessing right now is due to excessive training courses and the contribution of regional and international organizations. The third feature is that when you are forbidden from talking you begin to scream. We have to understand this when it comes to Libyans. But, of course, there are those who intend to continue hate speech, including the Muslim Brotherhood. We indeed have a hate speech but I do not consider it overwhelming, as it is declining and people no longer care about it. We have to realize the significance of the Islamist’ loss of the three elections held in Libya between 2011 and 2012.
What is the position of the Journalists and Media Professionals’ Syndicate in Libya after the revolution?
There were already several syndicates and organizations established But it remained weak and divided as a result of the political crisis and the civil war.
The rise of hate speech and incitement to violence can be simplified in the Socio-Cultural trend based on the idea of denying the other. Dominant groups or a dominant regime seek to deny the other by creating fragile social models that are easy to control. Perhaps the most prominent model around which the idea of exile revolves is the “outcast model.” This model of exclusion that can be stigmatized is the product of patriarchal domination, which in turn is a complicated social product. They make their own ostracized rhetoric inspired by literature that abolishes the other and move toward a dominant trend seeking to reshape bodies by shunting the idea that it is a tool of political action and protest. Therefore, hate speeches that have invaded screens, newspaper pages and websites focus their attention on women, sexual and gender minorities through stigmatization and normalization with violencet and incitement to committing it.
Hate speeches include harming human dignity, calling for killing and moral revenge, discrimination, humiliation, retribution, indignation, infidelity, and stigmatization. According to the professional ethics observatory in the updated written and electronic press within the National Union of Tunisian Journalists, hate speech is considered “every text regardless of its size, made through any means of direct or indirect reporting. D that includes abuse, insult, misdemeanor, inferiority or disloyalty of a person or group based on race, religion, political or geographic affiliation, color, language, sex, nature of occupation or appearance. It also calls for discrimination and superiority over others on racial, sectarian or similar grounds, and any call for hostility to immigrants and minorities or for incitement to derogation from their rights. It is also any humiliating metaphor or or expression against individuals and groups.” Chapter 52 of Decree No. 115 on freedom of the press, printing and publication states that: “Anyone who directly advocates by means acts described in chapter 50 of this Decree inciting hatred between races, religions or the population shall be punished by imprisonment from one to three years and fined from one to two thousand dinars, and the same incitement of discrimination, the use of hostile means or violence or the dissemination of discriminatory racial ideas”.
article 20, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights states
International treaties and laws agree that everyone must enjoy his or her civil and political rights and public and individual freedoms without discrimination or distinction. Most of these treaties addressed the dilemma of hate speech, where article 20, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights states: “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is prohibited by law”. In accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, it is considered that “any publication of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, any incitement to racial discrimination and any act of violence against any race or group of another color or ethnic origin; Any assistance to racist activities, including their financing, is also a punishable offense.” “Racial discrimination” means any discrimination, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin, which aims or entails the denial, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis; In the political, economic, social or cultural field or in any other field of public life. Article 19 also took care of the growing hate speech in the media within the so-called “Camden Principles“, where hatred was defined as: “A state of mind characterized by sharp and irrational animosities of hostility, stigmatization and contempt toward the group or person inciting against it,” calling on all countries to adopt legislation that criminalizes inflammatory rhetoric. Through this brief presentation of the concept of hate speech domestically and internationally, we note that there is no uniform and consistent definition of hate speech that remains problematic for some, especially since these definitions have not referred to the boundaries between freedom of expression and hate speech that can serve as a cover for repression and restriction. This paper therefore wants to break up hate speech in the media by understanding its mechanics and focusing on understanding and analyzing those directed, especially against women, sexual minorities and gender minorities in Tunisia.
Media and manipulating minds
We can only understand the structure and manifestations of hate speech by understanding the structure of the media that broadcast these speeches with their symbolic violence. The media has the power to guide and reshape opinions and positions within its political direction and line, producing hegemonic letters that the recipient can easily adopt and reproduce based on his background and without awareness of their seriousness. The media influence the vision of the individual for himself, for others and for the community, they are able to develop and role-play it through repetitive, condensing and muse-making rhetoric. The French philosopher Régis Debray considers that the media “work for the benefit of the individual and not the community, for the sense, not the mind, for the individual, and not for the universality. These three features are synaptic in the new pillars that will determine the nature of the dominant discourse, and the usefulness of its bearer. At the same time, they provide an individual strategy and the imbalance of the collective system that is no longer in need of rules, issues or a conceptual payload.” We can go a long way in analyzing what Debray said more than thirty years ago by asking a fundamental question: “Does media thinks?” In fact, the media, specifically television, are biased toward watching rather than attempting to destroy traditional intellectual structures and to carry out excavations to produce real value and meaning. The media “is driven by the logic of the thumbs up behind more public interest (…) and does not accept too much the expression of thought” because it looks for the emergency, the immediate, urgent and exciting “the odies” that have become a hegemonic power. The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu comments on this point: “One of the major problems that television poses is the problem of the relationships between thinking and speed. Can you think about gasping ideas quickly? Is not television condemned for creating “instant thinkers”, when it gives the talk to thinkers who have been forced to think more quickly? Thinkers must think faster than they do… think through “common ideas.” The “dominant and common ideas” about which Flaubert spoke,they are those that are accepted by everyone, trivial, vulgar, traditional, centrist, and common, are also those that when received feels as if they have already been accepted so that there is no place to raise the problem of receiving and making a sense afterwards.” Television eliminates our ability to think, criticize, and think about accountability, for it is the ultimate truth holder, thus ensuring that it “tracts to the market of certainty.” The dominant media rely on “experts” in the illusion industry, the disseminating of fallacies and the production of inciting speeches, relying on the inability of the receiving part of audience to form an opinion or position on a case. People are looking for easy location with or against stress and thought and that is what media offer: Ready-made ideas, ready-made situations, ready-made analyzes, ready-made proposals, ready-made point of view. Thus, the prevailing ideas form the dominant trend that dominates the knowledge and value system forms. In the process of guidance, the media rely not only on the inability of some to produce a decisive opinion or position, but also on those pre-prepared ideas that represent the stable land upon which the majority stands. Let us ask the following question: Why do people read this newspaper alone or watch this program alone or hear this radio alone? Because they find themselves among the speeches produced by the media, whose views are based in large part on practical ethics or the ethics of the class, as Pierre Bourdieu calls it, in a very brief, on their value and belief system linked to their social, economic and cultural surroundings.
Among the decisions of the Board of the Independent Supreme Commission for Audiovisual Communication in Responding to the Hate Speech, the decision to suspend the “Hadith Rijal” program on the private radio channel “Najma FM” for two weeks, given what was included in one of the program’s episodes broadcast on November 18, 2018, From incitement to hatred and discriminatory speech on a regional basis, as the program intentionally broadcasted citizens’ opinions regarding the controversy surrounding an advertising banner for one of the telecom operators in relation to the victory of the Tunisian sports club Esperance in the African Champions League, which contained a speech urging violence, hatred and discrimination such as ” a For the coastal star above all and Sousse above all. ” The broadcast of such discriminatory and inflammatory speeches constitutes a violation of the provisions of Chapter 15 of the Terms of Conditions relating to obtaining a license to create and exploit a private radio channel, which states that the owner of the license must commit to not inciting violence and hatred, and it is also in violation of the requirements of Chapter 24 of the same Terms of Conditions, which states That the license holder or owner is obliged not to broadcast any speech inciting discrimination, hatred or violence, in particular on racial, ethnic, moral, religious, sexual, regional, or opinion grounds.
Let us be more pragmatic and talk about Tunisia’s dominant media, which since 2011 has established false convictions for recipients, linking the left to blasphemy and aversion, sexual freedom with homosexuality and moral decay, women’s liberation and equality with a tragic plot to target Islamic identity. All these fallacies are the banner of hate speech, which relies on dodgy tactics and strategies, with the deliberate absence of genuine intellectuals and thinkers, whose task is to “break down stereotypes and reductive generalizations that impose severe restrictions on human thought and communication among human beings.” Let’s take the example of Al-SADA, one of the most prominent websites that incite violence and hatred, according to the 2016 report of the Ethics Observatory on written and electronic press. On February 2, 2016, they published an article entitled “Ignorant but yet they are university students with only excludible thoughts”, in which the writer attacks the modernist educated elite, which reads as follows: “They are ignorant, but they are university students and teachers, carrying only left-wing exclusivity, and never condemning except ideological extremism, and never believe in closeness or dialogue as well, and that they believe in it (hypocrisy) some of their speeches. The fact that they have crossed the border and preceded them outside the country is a good proof of this cheap mentality…, their ignorance harm citizens. Citizens only see their bad behaviors, the cacophony of thought and words. “They are used to talk in the morning and on Sunday evening in shameful media outlets which praise their ignorance, they are hosted by media corrupt teams that often don’t understand what they are saying (…),” he said. This passage resembles all the clichés, generalizations, and demonizing the left and describing each person holding a different thought form what is typical and familiar as a devil. In the same context of demonizing all channels are involved, among thos channels is “Al-Insan” channel which prompted the Independent High Authority for Audiovisual Communication “HAICA” to interfer in order to stop speeches of hatred and inciting violenceA financial fine of 50,000 dinars was imposed on the channel, and a three-month suspension of the “Khlik Ma’ana” program for violating human dignity, incitement to hatred, and a call for exclusion against a group of Tunisians. The Board’s monitoring unit recorded an interposition with its guest, Al-Sassah Muhammad Amin Al-Qurbi, known as “Rekoba”, in which he accused the leftists of “employment and normalization with the former regime”, saying: “The leftists were just puppets of the ruling party that Bin Ali exploited in his war against the Islamists. Mohammad Al-Sharfi is the head of the snake, and he is the one who called for uprooting the Islamists”. Also guest Mohamed Al-Affas in the show “What did you bring today with you” demonized the elites or as he said stereotypes demons as he said that “demons of elites view pilgrimage money as wasting national money and sacrifice of the feast as wasting animals, demons of elites consider bringing artists who are originally the tyrants’ puppets and shoe lickers, the red nights’ drainage ridiculously as a kind of investment in, and sorry when I say that, in culture…”. The host did not intervene and carry out his obligation to address such letters on the basis of the provisions of chapter 24 of the conditions book for the acquisition of allowing broadcasting and the exploitation of a private television channel, which states in point II and III that: “The license holder is obliged to ensure that no reason is given for exclusion, marginalization and imminence and to prevent indecent and insulting persons, whether by journalists working in the media organization or by guests of programs broadcasted by the institution, whether recorded or directly broadcasted on air, and that journalists are qualified to take responsibility for dealing with such abuses.”
Violations of hate speech after monitoring 19 media
Let’s just look back at the report of the Ethics Observatory on written and electronic press entitled “Media engagement with Terrorism, hate speech and Armed conflict: December 2015 – May 2016” to stop breaches in newspapers and websites. The importance of this report, the latest report by the Ethics Monitor, is that no further synthesis reports have yet been published after it, on 19 media outlets ranging from written to electronic. What is important to us in the context of hate speech is the nature of the breaches, the insults and humiliation, as reported in the report, the highest percentage was for hate speech (24.28%) and stigmatization (18.48%) followed by discrimination (11.59%), and the rest were distributed differently according to the nature of the breaches (excommunication, call for murder, hateful symptoms, etc.) The report confirmed that although these rates are small, they are not free from the seriousness of their impact on the target. Opinion articles (analyzes and columns) were linked to hate speech, with the Observatory reporting 127 (46.01%), followed by news reporting 78 (28.25%), then the headlines with 44 (15.94%), 9 photo-error (3.26%), and fewer other forms of journalism violations. In hate speech, the most important subjects of politics, terrorism and religion were overshadowed and described by being evil and infidels that should be excluded. This frequency has created a series of common terms such as: Nude / Shame Media / Excisionist / Extremist Left / Coupist / Conspirator / Masonic Infidel / Shiite / Atheist / ISIS / Without Honor / Media Parameters / Political Parameters / Tyrant / Apostates / Enemies of Islamic Identity. One of the most dangerous words the report spotted in opinion articles called a person “Jew” and “mentally disabled”, along with the description of liberation as “prostitution” and “legalized enslavement,” which entrenches negative public perceptions that may lead to murder, moral or material retaliation. In these terms, which fuel the “outcast” model, we note that it is about asking the body and individual freedoms. We will therefore focus more on hate speech directed against women, sexual and gender minorities as they represent the weakest link in the systematic war of persecution.
Hate speech against women, sexual and gender minorities
The body in modern social systems has become the “main area of political and social activity”, and the term “physical society”, developed by the English sociologist Brian Turner, has been used to express the heightened interest in the question of the body, which is central to understanding self-identity and social structures. Our bodies are “an entity in need, a project that must be worked on and completed as part of an individual’s self-identity” that always clashes with stigmatization and disinfection speeches. The media have contributed to perpetuating stereotypes about the bodies of women and the bodies of various gender advocates who are being described as not straight. We find that they accuse women, sexual and gender minorities, through television or radio programs based on sarcasm, shaming and clichés. The TV makes stars painted in a fake Shine. Once they appear on large screens, they become opinion leaders. A small, culturally empty pyramid can cast its role in everything, influence recipients, reshape their attitudes, or solidify their convictions based on moral judgments. Most sketches in programs on the private channels celebrate the mizoginizm and are characterized with violence. Women are always portrayed as jealous, naive, weak, proficient only in” decoration of their bodies”, while men aret smart, powerful, and decent. As for homosexuals and people with different sexual orientation, they have one image: A beard man and a dense hair at the chest, swaying, shaking his waist, screaming, wearing a veal, constantly moving and shaking his eyebrows, moving his hands as if he is dancing, and speaking with a plastic sound. As we have already pointed out, hate speech does not only mean calling for murder and incitement to violence, but also includes grudging and stigmatization, so such laughing knives in the wider public are pumps for hatred and ostracism. If we typed the word “perfect” on Al-sada site search engine and we read the titles, it would be enough to understand that the articles are inciting and non-subjective. The headlines alone repeat the same words as “the servants of demons”, “moral corruption”, “impotence”, “and the people of falsehood “,” homos”. In looking at the content of the articles, we find them based on non-rational arguments and illogical inferences; all of them take the same sentences and phrases in an evocative manner, such as “part of the people who are adamant of God’s law who wants to embrace the moral abnormality” or “the measure of citizenship, belonging and loyalty of the invalid people is to commit to their corrupt approach”. These “disgraceful” qualities promoted by these sites isolate and stifling people of different sexual orientation from society. One of England’s most distinguished sociologists interested in questioning the body, Chris Schlang, considers that someone with a stigma “faces problems in social interaction with “ordinary people” and that may have devastating consequences for self-identity. If a stigmatized person tries to become “normal,” he risks discovering a conflict between a virtual social identity and a realistic social identity, which can corrupt his social identity and isolate him from society and himself so that he becomes alone as a convicted person facing a world he wants.” How can women and sexual and gender minorities recover their bodies, loaded with unbearable burdens and weight, from the dominance of media, which has a profound impact on these bodies by promoting hate speech. The de facto denunciations are not sufficient to change reality and to counter the systematic incitement against “untouchables” on the basis of their race, religion, class, sex or sexual orientation. In this context, the decision of Haica on 28 March 2019 is a qualitative one on the subject of individual freedoms. The Board decided to give a financial finr to the “9th” channel of 50 thousand dinars, suspend the “MAG 9” program for a month and consider the non-return of the channel (i.e. a repetition of the crime). In view of the violations of the 9th of March 2019 seminar, the introduction of the program sought questions concerning issues of particular concern to the private life of its guest, Muna Al-Gharbi, in a undignified manner and without regard to her psychological condition, and deliberately issued a series of moral judgments on her form and manner of being addressed by saying: “Your form is strange, and you view yourself as a man, and this is unacceptable in our society. A woman pursuing men’s shape and type is forbidden. “I think people before they know we have to know the secret behind your form, have you been sexually assaulted when you were a child?” These statements, as provided for, may lead to discrimination or stigmatization, as well as what the duty of the press profession’s ethics impose which is to respect the private lives of guests. Among other qualitative decisions of HAICA is the decision to suspend the “with Alaa” program on the “Tunisian Al-Hiwar TV” channel for two months. This decision came in response to a petition issued by a group of citizens, in which more than 1500 people signed, against the normalization of program host Alaa Al-Shabi for his violence against women and reducing its danger. The young woman was laughed at on the 22 March 2019 episode for being sexual harassed by her father, Alaa al-Shabi, who tried to defend him and consider his egregious sexual acts as not harassment. The organization considered that the statement mentioned in the program episode, which belies the danger of sexual harassment on one hand and justify violence against women on the other, contradicts with the requirements of chapter 46 of the Tunisian Republic constitution, dated 27 January 2014, which emphasizes the necessity of the state’s commitment to protect the acquired rights of women and to work towards its supporting and development and to take measures to eliminate violence against women. It also runs counter to the requirements of Chapter 11, paragraph 02, of the Organic Law No. 58 of 2017 of 11 August 2017, on the elimination of violence against women, which states: “The public and private media are sensitizing the risks of violence against women and ways to combat and prevent it. It seeks to form media workers to deal with violence against women in respect of ethics, human rights and equality, and prevents publicity and the broadcast of media material containing stereotypes, scenes, statements or actions that offend the image of women, or that are devoted to violence against women or those who are under the risk of violence This is done by all means and media. The audio-audiovisual liaison body shall take measures and penalties as required by law to address the abuses set forth in the preceding paragraph of this chapter.”
On June 28, 2019, the Council of the Independent Supreme Commission for Audiovisual Communication decided to shed a 50,000-dinar financial fine on the Tunisian Hiwar channel, with a value of 50,000 dinars, without re-broadcasting on the portion of the offense that was part of the “Sami Al-Fihri Idea” program that aired on March 30. 2019, and pulling it from the official website of the channel and from all its social media channels, due to the violation of human dignity and private life that was included in the episode in order to settle personal differences. Sami al-Fihri, presenter of the program, and Ziyad al-Makki, presenter of the “Stagyar” paragraph, directed sarcastic questions to the episode’s singer Ayman Lasek, who had a special relationship with the artist Aisha Atieh, such as “Is it true that you tried to kiss her but you collided with her seductive forehead, and you were wounded and had to perform surgical sutures?” Or, “What did you like the most about her character or her big forehead, as if she was covering her character
These decisions, despite their importance, seem inadequate to address the escalating hate speech in our country, especially after the publication in June 2018 of the individual Liberties and Equality Committee report, which has mobilized many media to fight and propagate false ideas and its contents. If we were to be reassured for the intervention of HAICA with audio media and we became” patient people”, what about electronic and paper media? Reports from civil society organizations are only to draw attention and point to breaches with a confident finger, but they do not have the power to intervene and deter. What about cybercrime too, we are currently stuck in a web of violence and hate without having a law that punishes those who incite it. The Electronic Crime Bill remained on the shelf without enacting, and even the only version published by the 2015 Nawah site did not refer either to hate speech. We need a law that addresses such speeches, but we also need to understand the boundaries between hate speech and freedom of expression, as hate speech can be used as an argument for restraint and repression or to place a certain category of people above criticism and accountability. This is already the case with anti-Semitism laws that are used to criminalize critics of the Zionist entity. Working to combat hate speech in the media should not be confined to laws and procedures, but should go much further, how can we talk about media that respects freedoms and think a little bit before passing news and events when we are talking about media that make false concepts and do not know what the editorial meeting means, and we are talking about journalists who suffer because of their material circumstances, and we are talking about the time of the “imposters” and “clowns”. The media feed from the mines of hatred toward the other.
We are in case of an eternal war against this other one; we carry a distorted images of this other who is a project that might be of being subject to stereotyping and hate speech. This way of thinking is nothing but the consequence of an authoritarian regime that has huge arms and machines that want to create similar copies that run like flocks, eat and think, talk, sit, and dream in the same way.
In light of many human rights and legal violations committed, ideological and military rivalry are worsening between parties to the current conflict, and just as gaps ruling this country are widening two sectors are quickly emerging, one is full of tribal, political and financial conflicts and the other is expected to lead the country into even a worse scene.
Usually and naturally, media’s work during an ongoing violent crisis is contributing to this kind of conflicts and more effective than affected, as media outlets play an important role in directing this war towards one of those two sectors: the first is a positive one that pushes towards stability, ballot boxes, a peaceful transitional stage through elections, establishing a unified legislative parliament and promulgating a constitution that all Libyans agree upon, the other negative sector is the one pushes towards security vacuum, political apprehension, social collapse and cycles of endless wars like the ones the country has been witnessing after nine years of revolution.
And both sectors are controlled by media governance which is consisted of traditional media tools or social media websites which recently is having a great clear dominance.
We can divide the Libyan media according to time criterion into three main stages:
The first stage
which is the stage prior to entering to the democratic transition in 2011 when all media outlets where connected to one general governmental outlet, which is a type of media with one-sided prevailing role for the correspondent with no role for the receiving audience in creating the content or the provided material, this unilateral type of media is characterized by the lack of critical talk shows satirical political sketches, or even providing content that contradicts with the media policy that is previously planned by the totalitarian regime which considered the media to be a tool that it administrates and totally control and no one has the right to rebel or criticize that course.
After Gaddafi seized power through a military coup in 1969, the media’s content became politicized to a great extent to support the newly established regime.
However, despite the emergence of more politicized political content, this content was subject to the State’s control as stipulated in Gaddafi’s Green Book on Political Philosophy (published in 1975). This control was achieved through linking all public institutions including media outlets to “People’s Committees”, as according to the Green Book, media is the only means of conveying the current situation inside or outside the country, it was the only voice in the country and all its mission was to broadcast what they are ordered to, and thus it became a promoter of specific ideas and news that contribute to increasing the closure of society from the existing reality at this time, Media was just controlled by authority under the justification of reforming it. And under totalitarian governments as Gaddafi’s, there were no laws or legislation specific for media even those that legally restrict freedom of expression and punish for cases of defamation, discrimination or spreading hatred speech, as all related laws bind journalists to just follow orders and be subject to de facto policy.
Likewise, Libyan law did not stipulate on the right or freedom of practicing journalism as all decision makers in Libya used to avoid addressing individual freedom, professional or intellectual freedoms, as this is considered the most deadly red line that they are not supposed to cross.
During the 1970s and the until the mid-eighties many restrictions were imposed on the media due to the economic collapse and reducing the budget allocated to supporting the public media, and the local political news became headlines and formed most of the media content at the time, and no voice should prevail over unilateral dictatorial government, despite Gaddafi’s quotation which was included in the Green Book (the press or the media is the means of expression of society as a whole and not a means of expression for any natural or legal person and so logically and democratically, you cannot own either of them) (Gaddafi 1984 – p. 68).
These restrictions continued until the early nineties because of the sanctions imposed on Libya as a result for the Lockerbie plane incident (Pan Am Flight 103/ Lockerbie bombing) which resulted in a ban on Libya from importing paper and modern technological means to keep pace with Arab and international media, and this has increased Libya’s isolation within a closed frame.
The use of hate speech by the Libyan media until the nineties was used as a speech directed to governments of enemies and unfriendly foreign countries as Great Britain and the United States describing them with defaming insulting characteristics and calling them imperialists and spies and thus, the focus of any TV or radio content presented in that period, and there were also executions and death sentences broadcasted on T.V. for what the government called as stray dogs and these facts confirm that this period is the most violent and hatred inciting period in the history of the Libyan media.
But at the start of the twenty-first century – Saif al-Islam established in 2006 two newspapers, “Oea” and “Qurina”, which were affiliated with “Al-Ghad Media Group” as well as “Al-Libiya Channel” due to the international criticism of his father’s arbitrary policy towards freedom of expression and the press, and so he made this alleged reform initiative, which was a great opportunity for new journalists to engage in journalistic work and benefit from limiting the journalistic censorship and monitoring which was limited to prohibiting criticizing Gaddafi only, but unfortunately, overall the style of these newspapers were not very different from the previous ones in terms of lack of objectivity and politicization of media material.
As for the second stage
which is the stage of the 2011 revolution events, and this was a major turning point in the history of Libya and the Libyan media as many private channels emerged during and after the revolution, some them emerged in Benghazi with licenses that were easily and smoothly provided by the transitional council at that time – as they did not set specific standards that govern The tasks and mechanism of action of these channels- and other private channels that were directly supported by certain Arab countries that had a role in overthrowing the rule of Gaddafi and ending his term of presidency also were launched.
Among these countries are Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey, and these channels contributed to the promotion of certain revolutionary ideas that led to misleading the audience about general contexts through broadcasting false or exaggerated content and sometimes a counter-speech that lacks scientific or news value, such as defaming famous political characters or public figures and setting specific grounds that falsify the existing reality, contradicts with real news and other unprofessional media practices.
This stage was characterized by a direct hate speech that contributed to promoting tribal and regional differences between many Libyan cities. And between and those who support the revolution and those who oppose it hate speech and description emerged which represented the first social rift for the post revolution period as many hatred terms was broadcasted through these channels such as: parasites, rats, slaves, returnees, conspirators, etc.
This type of speech was the first stone in dividing Libyans and categorizing and describing them according to their political and social affiliations and this forced many to choose a counter-speech that guarantees them a social presence and use it as a media tool to confront excluding them.
The tone of the newly opened private channels at that time made the audience unable to comprehend the correct description of media professionalism that had been absent for decades and was tough to identify while ending years of Gaddafi’s tyrant rule,
Consequently, these channels were the only way to transfer and exchange information and news for audience willing to hear, regardless of whether or not it was valid information.
When events started to advance quickly, the newly created Libyan channels became the only existing commodity presented to its viewers or its pioneers – through the first launch of the “Free Libya” channel that was presented as a gift to the Libyan people by the State of Qatar motivated by stimulating democratic transformation in the region and which first provided content that supports the revolution in its early beginnings an then later its provided content kept changing according to changes in its administrations and change in goals from one period to another, which contributed to the formation of stakeholders with Islamic affiliations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood whether as parties, individuals, or associations, as well as some channels that were broadcasted from other countries which contained all kinds of hate speech, hostile rhetoric, and the language of skepticism in others and allowed themselves to attract dozens of media voices that contributed to worsening the situation and cause the required propaganda.
As for the third stage
which came after 2014, it is the stage in which the parties to media struggle changed from multiple minor forms to clear major poles, which made the media playing a clearer role with clearer identities without hiding themselves behind complicated titles, and thus not only did their speeches target certain politicians and governments but also it became platforms for supporting warlords and armed formations to invade specific cities and regions – where their rhetoric became more intense and inciting, and these platforms had foreign sources that were continuingly providing them with funds as they are clearly supporting certain parties to the war and their stances were also supported by a good size of fan base as they represent their opinions and point of views.
What characterized this period is the speed and diversity of hate speech which included false news coverage and news bars full of textual and informative fallacies, in addition to dealing with some topics n a temporary and timeless manner without making reviews or montages for these pre-prepared articles, but rather Conversely, most of the channels were trying to show the worst of their media weapons in that period to prove only the righteousness of the party they were supporting and this is what made that year a crucial stage in pushing towards a civil war that have been going on for years and is expected to continue beyond that
The aggressive atmosphere caused by media during what Libyans know as (Airport War year) is expanding to many news and program correspondents till today as it has become the primary criterion from which they begin to denounce or oppose a city, a class or certain persons.
Throughout these years and stages, the Libyan media was characterized by taking forms and using tools at are the most dangerous in the region in terms of adopting verbal violence incitement to killing, invasion, and wars between conflicting parties in addition to the offensive language that contributed to delaying the peaceful transfer of power between governments and leadership positions in the country.
Although everyone realizes the seriousness of this type of discourse on the political process and economic conditions in general, these media outlets are getting increasing popularity and multiple sources of funding every day, it is even gaining more multiplicity and getting renewed such as Channel 218, which has taken upon itself a journalistic mission through devoting a channel to this matter, which derives most of its news from the pages of social networking sites that sometimes lack the source and credibility.
However, the channel’s attempts to access information or news are often quick and urgent, but it lacks the importance or the correct timing. As for channels such as Al-Hadath, which support the militarization of the state without paying attention to Libyan’s aspirations to achieve their democracy, for which they have fought for all these years, the channel attempt, through their inciting discourse to silence voices and criticizing opinions that support other opposing parties, as participants in some episodes were watched many times being oppressed and prevented from talking openly and frankly and that made the channel’s tendencies clear to many media observers and followers.
Despite the repeated cases of hate speech and inciting discourse and defamation cases in general, no laws or decisions have been enacted to limit this matter by ministries competent authorities – and if this happens, it shall end this dilemma which might push towards other wars and others that would have not occurred if a real material deterrent or certain punishment existed to reduce this poisonous speech
Finally, most of the divisions on the ground are an extension of the initial media divisions that acts impartially according to the sources of their financing and funding the entity or region from which they were broadcast, and the political current that they advocate whether it was liberal, Islamic, or otherwise. The steps for political, economic, and social reform are related to the discontinuation and seizing of these entities as preventing this poison would end enraging these organizations and armed political battalions.
مُتاح أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)